Amazon Shares Plunge on Holiday Earnings Miss

Jeff Bezos

The e-commerce giant brought in $35.7 billion in sales during the fourth quarter.

Amazon shares on Thursday plunged more than 10 percent during after-hours trading on the Nasdaq after the e-tailing giant reported a weaker-than-expected holiday selling season. 

Sales at the Seattle-based tech company increased 22 percent to $35.7 billion during the quarter. It was the best quarter ever for the company, but came in below the $36 billion in sales that Wall Street was expecting.

The company also delivered a profit of $1 per diluted share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting $1.56 per share. 

The period, known for its heavy holiday shopping, is typically a boon for Amazon because of its dominance in the growing online retail business. 

For the full year, Amazon increased sales by 20 percent to $107 billion and turned 2014 losses into a profit of $1.25 per diluted share. 

Meanwhile, the company remains coy about the exact size of its Amazon Prime subscriber base, but it did reveal that memberships increased by 51 percent during the year. U.S. membership grew by 47 percent but increased "even faster" internationally, according to an Amazon release. In 2014, paid memberships increased by 53 percent.

CEO Jeff Bezos celebrated the milestone of passing $100 billion in annual sales by reminding investors about the company's origins. "Twenty years ago, I was driving packages to the post office myself and hoping we might one day afford a forklift," he said in a statement. "This year, we pass $100 billion in annual sales and serve 300 million customers. And still, measured by the dynamism we see everywhere in the marketplace and by the ever-expanding opportunities we see to invent on behalf of customers, it feels every bit like Day 1." 

Among the Amazon highlights for the year was the performance of original drama The Man in the High Castle, which the company says outperformed any other series on Prime Video by 4.5 times. 

Amazon shares closed Thursday up nearly 9 percent, or $52, to $635.35.  

 

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