Amazon triples quarterly profit as cloud surges

Amazon triples quarterly profit as cloud surges

Amazon is using artificial intelligence to help shoppers and sellers at its online shop, and plans to spend billions on new data centers for its AWS cloud computing unit
Amazon is using artificial intelligence to help shoppers and sellers at its online shop, and plans to spend billions on new data centers for its AWS cloud computing unit. Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP
Source: AFP

E-commerce titan Amazon on Tuesday said profit in the first three months of 2024 tripled as its cloud, ads, and retail businesses thrived.

Amazon shares were up more than 3 percent in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings figures, with Wall Street keeping a close eye on the impact of AI.

"It was a good start to the year across the business," Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy said in an earnings release.

The Seattle-based company reported $10.4 billion in profit on revenue of $143.3 billion compared with a profit of $3.2 billion on $127.4 billion in sales in the same period a year earlier.

"Amazon opens its new fiscal year with a robust set of numbers that show it has mostly brushed off pressures in the consumer economy," GlobalData managing director Neil Saunders said in a note to investors.

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Sales at Amazon online stores grew by 7 percent in the quarter despite competitive pressure from rivals such as Shein and Temu, according to Saunders.

"Our customer data still shows that Amazon is a focal point for those consumers wanting value for money and convenience," Saunders said.

"We also believe that Prime members are leaning more heavily into Amazon to maximize value from their subscriptions."

Growth in online store sales indicated last year's turnaround at Amazon's e-commerce business is continuing, according to Emarketer senior analyst Blake Droesch.

"While the core ecommerce business is no longer the biggest growth driver, it remains an essential component of the Amazon flywheel, particularly in propelling its ad business," Droesch said.

Data center push

Jassy said the adoption of AI capablities was getting companies to modernize their tech infrastructures through Amazon's AWS cloud computing division, which is on track to bring in a hundred billion dollars over the course of the year.

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AWS revenue in the recently ended quarter was $25 billion compared with $21.4 billion in the same period last year, the earnings figures showed.

Jassy also pointed to Amazon's young ad business that was gaining momentum at its online shop and Prime streaming television service.

The tech giant has also been driving down costs, he added.

The company last year eliminated some 27,000 jobs in a move it said at the time was necessary, after years of sustained hiring.

Amazon's shares have risen by nearly 75 percent in the past 12 months as investors applauded its aggressive cost-cutting early last year, an increase in sales and the potential of its cloud computing platform in the coming AI era.

The company founded by Jeff Bezos is also expanding into AI and testing a chatbot named Rufus that would provide shopping tips to US mobile app customers.

Amazon also added more generative AI features for sellers to use when creating listings.

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The company plans to invest billions of dollars in AWS datacenters in Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the US in coming years, according to the earnings release.

Amazon's exceeding of market expectations comes after Microsoft last week reported solid earnings as it continued its aggressive push into artificial intelligence boost revenues and profit.

The embrace of AI has boosted sales of its key cloud services, such as Azure, a rival of AWS.

Like most tech titans, Amazon faces increased regulatory scrutiny.

Amazon is being sued by the top US antitrust regulator that accuses the online retail giant of running an illegal monopoly by strong-arming independent sellers on its platform and stifling potential rivals.

It was also forced to abandon its buyout of the iRobot vacuum maker after the EU's antitrust authority objected to the plan over competition concerns.

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Source: AFP

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