Amazon announces Q4 sales up 38% to $60.5 billion

All of Amazon's 2017 operating income comes from AWS

The cloud unit, Amazon Web Services, reported a profit of $4.3 billion in 2017, up from $3.1 billion.

The online retail giant reported that it saw its net income more than double to $1.9bn (£1.33bn) in the fourth quarter ending December 31 2017, up from $749m for the same period past year.

Analysts on average were expecting just US$1.85 per share, Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S said. Operating income went up to $1.35 billion, also exceeding expectations of $1.27bn.

In terms of the entirety of 2017, net sales increased 31pc to $177.9bn compared to $136bn in 2016.

Analysts were expecting US$1.5 billion, analytics firm FactSet Research Systems Inc said.

Amazon's North American operations posted revenue of $37.3 billion, up 42%.

According to results released on Thursday, operating income increased almost 70% to $2.1 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with operating income of $1.3 billion in fourth quarter 2016. During the AWS re:Invent cloud computing conference held by the company last December, Amazon announced a series of updates to its cloud computing services. The eCommerce giant posted astaggering $60.5 billion in revenue, surpassing Wall Street estimates which projected its revenues for the period to only reach $59.83 billion.

Net income soared 148% year over year to $1.86 billion in the quarter.

Amazon's Alexa, the business centered on the artificial intelligence (AI)-driven, voice-activated assistant, performed much better than the company expected, which also helped results.

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Amazon said other companies and developers are ramping up adoption of Alexa.

There are more than 30,000 skills for Alexa; 4,000 plus smart-home devices from 1,200 unique brands; Alexa use on Fire TV rose nine times year-over-year, and music listening time on Alexa was three times higher this holiday season compared with the past.

"Although Amazon has grown sharply, it is still nowhere near its potential". He cited categories, including home and apparel, where it is underpenetrated and, with tweaks, should be able to make further gains.

Amazon is stressing groceries and consumables as a result of the Whole Foods acquisition, Olsavsky said.

But he added a cautionary note. Amazon hired almost 130,000 employees globally in 2017, excluding acquisitions, adding a workforce the size of a small city.

The key growth area for the company is AWS. One of these is the increased risk of regulatory intervention and oversight.

Amazon included long list of annual highlights with its four quarter results.

The company said that in 2017 more than five billion items were shipped via Amazon Prime as more new members joined the service than in any previous year.

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