clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Amazon has posted a profit for 11 straight quarters — including a record $1.9 billion during the holidays

Amazon is on fire.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, wearing sunglasses and waving
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
Drew Angerer / Getty
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Amazon is putting its reputation as a money-loser in the rearview mirror.

The e-commerce giant posted a record profit of $1.9 billion during the last three months of 2017, marking the 11th straight quarter of positive net income for Jeff Bezos’s company.

Amazon profitable for 11 quarters

About $789 million of that can be attributed to a tax benefit resulting from President Trump’s tax plan. But even without the benefit, the profit number would have been the largest in the company’s history.

Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said the fact that Amazon’s revenue came in at the high end of internal projections — $60.5 billion — helped margins, because warehouses can operate more efficiently when more products are running through them.

He also called the company’s advertising business, which boasts much higher profit margins than the core retail business, “a key contributor” in the fourth quarter.

The operating margins at Amazon Web Services, the company’s most profitable business unit, also expanded 1 percentage point from the previous quarter.

Amazon profit margin

Still, Amazon’s profits are modest for a company of its size. The company essentially runs its core retail machine at break-even, pumping as much cash as possible into big new initiatives that may not produce meaningful financial results until years down the line.

Amazon revenue versus profit

Expect Amazon to continue to invest heavily into one of these growth areas, its Alexa voice assistant technology, based on comments made by Bezos in the company’s earnings release.

“Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them,” he said. “We don’t see positive surprises of this magnitude very often — expect us to double down.”

Amazon’s stock was trading up 6 percent in after-hours trading.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.