Amazon's Q4 Earnings Show Skyrocketing Sales, But Slimmer Profits

Wondering how Amazon seems to consistently offer excellent pricing on products? Because it barely makes any profit per item sold. In the company's latest quarterly earnings report, we're told that Amazon raked in an astounding $21.27 billion dollars in the past three months alone. No, there's no typographical error there. But on the net profit side, it counted just $97 million. In other words, margins are about as thin as you could imagine, but it's making it up in volume. Operating cash flow increased 7% to $4.18 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $3.90 billion for the trailing twelve months ended December 31, 2011, while net sales increased 22% to $21.27 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $17.43 billion in fourth quarter 2011. Excluding the $178 million unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales grew 23% compared with fourth quarter 2011.

Net income decreased 45% to $97 million in the fourth quarter, compared with $177 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, in fourth quarter 2011. Why the drop? The CEO had a few words.
"We're now seeing the transition we've been expecting," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of "After 5 years, eBooks is a multi-billion dollar category for us and growing fast - up approximately 70% last year. In contrast, our physical book sales experienced the lowest December growth rate in our 17 years as a book seller, up just 5%. We're excited and very grateful to our customers for their response to Kindle and our ever expanding ecosystem and selection."

As for other quarterly highlights? Well, for starters, Amazon's Kindle Fire HD continued its run as the #1 best-selling, most gifted, and most wished for product across the millions of items available on Amazon worldwide. The company also announced the launch of AutoRip, a new service that gives customers free MP3 versions of CDs they purchase from Amazon. announced new licensing agreements with Turner Broadcasting, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, and A+E Networks, for popular television series including Falling Skies, The Closer, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, and Dance Moms, expanding its catalog of title offerings for Prime Instant Video to more than 36,000 movies and television episodes.

The company still isn't coming clean with exact sales figures on the Kindle line, but after witnessing the raking over the coals that Apple has dealt with in recent weeks due to flagging sales of Mac and iPod products, we certainly can't blame them.
Tags:  Amazon, Kindle, earnings