Amazon Beats Wall Street Q4 Estimates as Ad Sales Climb 27%

Amazon reported its fourth-quarter 2023 earnings Thursday, revealing results for its October Prime Day event and the holiday shopping season.

Wall Street projected Amazon would post $24.2 billion for its Amazon Web Services (AWS) division and hit $14.2 billion in ad sales for the quarter ended Dec. 31, per StreetAccount. Amazon reported $14.7 billion in ad sales, up 27% year over year, and $24.2 billion for AWS, an increase of 13%.

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Analysts also forecast earnings per share (EPS) of 80 cents on $166.21 billion in revenue, according to consensus data provided by LSEG, formerly Refinitiv. Amazon reported adjusted EPS of $1.00 on $170 billion in revenue.

“This Q4 was a record-breaking Holiday shopping season and closed out a robust 2023 for Amazon,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said in a letter to shareholders. “While we made meaningful revenue, operating income, and free cash flow progress, what we’re most pleased with is the continued invention and customer experience improvements across our businesses. The regionalization of our U.S. fulfillment network led to our fastest-ever delivery speeds for Prime members while also lowering our cost to serve; AWS’s continued long-term focus on customers and feature delivery, coupled with new genAI capabilities like Bedrock, Q, and Trainium have resonated with customers and are starting to be reflected in our overall results; our Advertising services continue to improve and drive positive results; our newer businesses are progressing nicely, and along with our more established businesses, collectively making customers’ lives easier and better every day. As we enter 2024, our teams are delivering at a rapid clip, and we have a lot in front of us to be excited about.”

The Q4 financial results come on the heels of the tech giant laying off hundreds of employees across Amazon MGM Studios, Prime Video, Twitch and Audible. Those cuts follow more than 27,000 employees being let go since the end of 2022.

Though not relevant for the currently reporting fourth quarter, it should be noted Amazon began showing ads on Prime Video content by default in major markets Monday, unless users opt to pay extra ($2.99/month in the U.S.) to have an ad-free experience. The company promises to have “meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming TV providers,” and early results for the new revenue stream would be included in the forthcoming Q1 report for 2024.

Amazon stock closed Thursday at $159.28 per share. The regular U.S. stock markets will reopen Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Jassy and other Amazon executives will host a conference call at 5:30 p.m. ET to discuss the fourth quarter results in greater detail.

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