Amazon sales outlook falls short after record holiday quarter

The numbers. Late Thursday, Amazon reported a fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $6.04 a share, beating Wall Street's forecast for $5.63.

Looking ahead. Amazon shares are down 0.3% in after-hours trading. Net income for the quarter was $3 billion, up from $1.9 billion in the year-ago quarter.

The company has used fast shipping and streaming video to attract shoppers, creating an e-commerce powerhouse.

Amazon's cloud business AWS is earning the company big bucks.

The Bezos Bunch said they also logged $233bn of sales that year, and banked $10.1bn in profit. Although its operating loss shrunk to US$642-million from US$919-million in the quarter, rules in India created concern.

Brian Olsavsky, Amazon's chief financial officer, said on a call with reporters that the "situation in India is a bit fluid right now".

Still, Olsavsky said, "India remains a good long-term opportunity".

Amazon began removing a wide array of products from its India website late on Thursday to comply with the new foreign investment curbs that kick in on February 1 and disallow companies from selling products via vendors in which they have an equity interest.

Amazon sees first-quarter operating income of $2.3 billion-$3.3 billion, but delivered weak first-quarter sales guidance of $56 billion-$60 billion versus the $60.96 billion estimate.

Amazon's fourth-quarter sales hit a record $72.4 billion, yielding a $3 billion profit - both surpassing analysts' expectations. That should please Wall Street, but also indicates that Amazon may not pursue as many new projects as it has before - though there are still plenty.

In the fourth quarter, Amazon's biggest of the year, revenue rose 20 per cent to.4 billion. Amazon projected first-quarter growth to hit between 10 and 18 per cent compared to the same period past year. Amazon's revenue of nearly $72.4 billion in the period also exceeded Street forecasts of $71.7 billion, according to Zacks Investment Research. In the United States, the company shipped more than 1 billion items for free over the holidays with Prime. The company said previous year it has more than 100 million Prime members globally.

"Thanks to the growing devotion of its advertisers, Amazon's ad business is growing robustly", Monica Peart, senior director of eMarketer, said this week, noting that it was "chipping away at search ad dollars that were once going to Google".

Amazon Web Services- which provides cloud-computing services to Netflix, Samsung and NASA, among many others - continued to be another big revenue booster, with the segment posting 45 percent growth.

In the third quarter, Amazon pulled in US$2.9 billion in quarterly profit, with sales that climbed almost 30 per cent to US$56.6 billion.

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