Amazon.com Inc. reported a better-than-expected profit in the fourth quarter, as new customers continued to sign up with its Prime program, grocery delivery surged and a rush of shoppers embraced its faster delivery programs during a compressed holiday season.
“Prime membership continues to get better for customers year after year,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, said in the earnings announcement. “And customers are responding — more people joined Prime this quarter than ever before, and we now have over 150 million paid Prime members around the world.”
Bezos said the number of customers using one-day and same-day deliveries quadrupled during the quarter.
Grocery delivery orders more than doubled during the quarter, compared with a year ago, as Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods is offering free delivery to Prime members, after previously charging $14.99 a month.
Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky told analysts on a conference call Thursday that revenue of $87.4 billion exceeded the high end of AMmazon’s own revenue estimate of $86.5 billion.
On the international front, Amazon plans to spend $1 billion to help digitize trades and micro, small and medium-sized businesses in India. The company has a goal of reaching 10 million MSMBs online by 2025.
“We’re definitely continuing to improve the experience for customers and sellers,” Dave Fildes, director, investor relations, said on the call.
The company has 550,000 sellers on the Amazon India marketplace and more than 60,000 manufacturers and brands exporting on the service. Amazon hopes its investment will yield $10 billion in exports from India by 2025.
Company wide, third-party sellers, which are mostly small and medium-sized businesses, sold more than one billion items during the holiday season, including 100 million items sent using Prime free one-day shipping.
Net income rose to $3.3 billion during the quarter, or $6.47 a share, compared with $3 billion, or $6.04 per share in the year-ago quarter.
Sales increased 21% to $87.4 billion in the quarter, compared with $72.4 billion in the year-ago quarter.
Net income for the year rose to $11.6 billion, or $23.01 per share, compared with $10.1 billion, or $20.14 per share, in the year-ago quarter.
Cover image: Amazon
David Jones is a veteran business and technology journalist, with three decades of experience writing about business travel, real estate and technology.
Since 2015 he covered a range of technology stories for the ECT News Network, which includes the E-Commerce Times, TechNewsWorld, LinuxInsider and CRM Buyer, writing about cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, open source computing and privacy issues among others,. He recently covered FinTech issues for PYMNTS.com.
He worked as a staff writer for Bloomberg Business News and an online reporter for Crain’s New York Business. He has written for numerous media organizations, including Reuters, The New York Times, The Real Deal, Continental, City Limits and The Nation.
He was previously awarded the George Washington Williams Fellowship for Journalists of Color by the Independent Press Association.