Amazon Says It Signed Up Record Number of Prime Members Last Year

Jeff Bezos - Getty - H 2019
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The company said its net "service sales" jumped to $27.7 billion from $19.1 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

Amazon on Thursday bested the expectations of analysts by reporting revenue of $72.4 billion in the fourth quarter and $6.04 per share in earnings.

Amazon was expected to earn $5.65 per share on revenue of $71.6 billion.

"The fourth quarter 2017 included a provisional tax benefit for the impact of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 of approximately $789 million." the company said.

Amazon said it also signed up more new members worldwide to its Prime video and delivery service in 2018 than in any year prior. The company said its net "service sales" jumped to $27.7 billion from $19.1 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

Amazon's earnings comes as CEO Jeff Bezos is in the midst of a divorce from MacKenzie Bezos. (The exec did not appear on a conference call with analysts late Thursday.) The couple's fortune is estimated at $140 billion, and there is reportedly no prenuptial agreement, as they were married 25 years ago before the creation of Amazon.

Bezos owns 16 percent of Amazon, a company Wall Street values at $836 billion, and he also owns The Washington Post.

What probably interests analysts more is that Bezos has reportedly launched an investigation into how The National Enquirer allegedly gained access to some of his personal texts, though the topic wasn't addressed Thursday.

Last April, Bezos disclosed there were more than 100 million Prime members worldwide, but neither CFO Brian Olsavsky nor head of investor relations David Fildes, both of whom led Thursday's call with analysts, revealed new numbers.

Shares of Amazon were up 3 percent Thursday but sold off 3 percent after the closing bell as investors seemed unimpressed with guidance and executives said spending will grow in 2019. They specifically noted that the company will spend more on content for Prime Video.

They also noted that Prime has had success streaming NFL games and that they intend to keep that initiative going.