Amazon on Thursday reported worse-than-expected profits, but its revenue beat expectations boosted by sales of its cloud-computing unit AWS, which is also seeing a slow-down in growth.
Amazon said it made $300 million in profits, or 3 cents per share, falling below the $2.03 billion analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting. The company said its profits were dented by a $2.3 billion write-down of the value of its stock investment in electric vehicle start-up Rivian Automotive.
The company’s fourth quarter profits represent a significant drop from the $14.3 billion it posted during the same period in 2021, when the company had a nearly $12 billion gain from its investment in Rivian Automotive.
Shares in Amazon.com Inc. fell 7% in after-hours trading.
At the same time, Amazon said its overall revenue rose 9% to $149.2 billion, higher than the $145.7 analysts were expecting. It said it expects revenue of between $121 billion and $126 billion during the current quarter. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting $125 billion.
The earnings report closes a rough 2022 for Amazon, when the company lost nearly half of its value amid a broader sell-off of tech shares tied to rising inflation, interest rates and concerns about the wider economy.
The Seattle-based company has been struggling to right-size its business in the past year as consumers pulled back from the pandemic-induced move towards online shopping. To keep up with the demand at the time, Amazon boosted hiring at its corporate offices and its warehouses, nearly doubling its workforce to more than 1.6 million by the beginning of last year.
But as its retail business cooled, Amazon has been attempting to curb its expenses that have been outpacing sales in its North America and international businesses since the fourth quarter of 2021. It spent some of last year reducing its warehouse workforce through attrition, and canceling or delaying plans to open warehouses in different parts of the country. The company said Thursday its North America business grew by 13%, but expenses still outpaced growth.
The company has been further tightening its budget by eliminating certain parts of its business and laying off workers in the past few months amid rising concerns about whether the U.S. will dip into a recession. In November, it began what would be the largest set of job cuts among its corporate offices, expected to be over 18,000 jobs in total, according to a note to employees by the company’s CEO Andy Jassy. Other tech companies that hired rapidly during the pandemic, including Facebook parent Meta, Microsoft and Salesforce, have also been cutting jobs.
Shoppers have been reducing their spending in recent months amid high inflation and concerns about the wider economy. Retail sales fell a worse-than-expected 1.1% in December, following a revised 1% drop in November, according to the Commerce Department.
To entice budget-conscious shoppers, Amazon, along with other retailers, began offering holiday deals in October. The company said in November it saw its biggest ever Thanksgiving holiday shopping period. Thursday’s report shows its online stores division fell by 2%.
Amid the consumer pullback in online shopping, the company has relied on other profitable areas of its business to boost its revenue. Amazon’s advertising business saw a 23% growth during the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, its cloud-computing unit AWS grew by 20%, compared to 40% during the same period in 2021.