Amazon Reports Huge Sales Increase in Fourth Quarter

January 24, 2011
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Jan 24 – Jan 30, 2011 Edition Amazon Reports Huge Sales Increase in Fourth Quarter

SEATTLE/AUTHORLINK NEWS/ January 28, 2011–Amazon.com, Inc. late yesterday announced a net sales increased 36% to $12.95 billion in the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2010, compared with $9.52 billion in fourth quarter 2009. Excluding the $139 million unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales would have grown 37% compared with fourth quarter 2009.

Operating income was $474 million in the fourth quarter, compared with $476 million in fourth quarter 2009. The unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter on operating income was $18 million.

Net income increased 8% to $416 million in the fourth quarter, or $0.91 per diluted share, compared with net income of $384 million, or $0.85 per diluted share, in fourth quarter 2009.

For the full year, net sales increased 40% to $34.20 billion, compared with $24.51 billion in 2009. The unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the year on net sales was $86 million.

Operating income increased 25% to $1.41 billion, compared with $1.13 billion in 2009. The unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the year on operating income was $28 million. In 2009, operating income was negatively impacted by a $51 million legal settlement.

Net income increased 28% to $1.15 billion in 2010, or $2.53 per diluted share, compared with net income of $902 million, or $2.04 per diluted share, in 2009.

“Thanks to our customers, we achieved two big milestones,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “We had our first $10 billion quarter, and after selling millions of third-generation Kindles with the new Pearl e-ink display during the quarter, Kindle books have now overtaken paperback books as the most popular format on Amazon.com. Last July we announced that Kindle books had passed hardcovers and predicted that Kindle would surpass paperbacks in the second quarter of this year, so this milestone has come even sooner than we expected – and it’s on top of continued growth in paperback sales.”

Amazon.com is now selling more Kindle books than paperback books. Since the beginning of the year, for every 100 paperback books Amazon has sold, the Company has sold 115 Kindle books. Additionally, during this same time period the Company has sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcover books. This is across Amazon.com’s entire U.S. book business and includes sales of books where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded and if included would make the numbers even higher.

The Company sold millions of third-generation Kindle devices with the new advanced paper-like Pearl e-ink display in the fourth quarter and the third-generation Kindle eclipsed “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” as the bestselling product in Amazon’s history.

The U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 810,000 books including New Releases and 107 of 112 New York Times Bestsellers. Over 670,000 of these books are $9.99 or less, including 74 New York Times Bestsellers. Millions of free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are also available to read on Kindle.

In its SEC 10-K filing dated January 28, 2011, the company said it faces intense competition from retail, e-commerce services, digital content and digital media devices and web services. Many of its competitors have greater resources, longer histories, more customers and greater brand recognition. In addition, new and enhanced technologies, including search, web services, and digital, may increase our competition.

The company plans to rapidly and significantly expand global operations, including increasing product and service offerings and scaling infrastructure to support retail and services businesses. This expansion increases the complexity of its business and places significant strain on management, personnel, operations, systems, technical performance, financial resources, and internal financial control and reporting functions. In assessing the risks of its growth, the company said “We may not be able to manage growth effectively, which could damage our reputation, limit our growth and negatively affect our operating results, “ the filing said.

The report continued: “We may have limited or no experience in our newer market segments, and our customers may not adopt our new offerings. These offerings may present new and difficult technology challenges, and we may be subject to claims if customers of these offerings experience service disruptions or failures or other quality issues. In addition, profitability, if any, in our newer activities may be lower than in our older activities, and we may not be successful enough in these newer activities to recoup our investments in them. If any of this were to occur, it could damage our reputation, limit our growth and negatively affect our operating results.”

Furthermore, Amazon worries that “We may not be able to accurately forecast our growth rate. We base our expense levels and investment plans on sales estimates. A significant portion of our expenses and investments is fixed, and we may not be able to adjust our spending quickly enough if our sales are less than expected. Our revenue growth may not be sustainable, and our percentage growth rates may decrease. Our revenue and operating profit growth depends on the continued growth of demand for the products and services offered by us or our sellers, and our business is affected by general economic and business conditions worldwide. A softening of demand, whether caused by changes in customer preferences or a weakening of the U.S. or global economies, may result in decreased revenue or growth.”

Despite these risks, the company expects significant growth next year.

Looking ahead to 2011, Amazon expects net sales to be between $9.1 billion and $9.9 billion, or to grow between 28% and 39% compared with first quarter 2010. Operating income is expected to be between $260 million and $385 million, or between 34% decline and 2% decline compared with first quarter 2010.

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