Amazon crushes Q3 expectations, but AWS growth slowed to 29%

Amazon has continued to reap the rewards of a society increasingly dependent on ecommerce — a trend further fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company crushed analyst expectations Thursday, reporting net income of $6.3 billion in the third quarter, or $12.37 per diluted share, compared with $2.1 billion in net income, or $4.23 per diluted share in the same quarter last year. 

The company brought in a total of $96.15 billion in revenue, a 37.4% increase from the $69.98 billion it generated in the same period last year. 

Analysts polled by Yahoo expected earnings per share of $7.41 on average, up from $4.23 last year. Analysts expected revenue of $92.7 billion, up from $69.98 billion in the same year-ago period. 

While the third-quarter numbers beat expectations, the picture wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. The company’s cloud-computing service AWS saw growth slow in the third quarter. AWS generated $11.6 billion in sales, a 29% YoY sales growth. That sounds dandy, but it’s actually smaller than the 35% YoY sales growth the segment experienced in the third quarter of 2019.

The financials released Thursday also showed growth from the second period of this year, which was considered at the time a “killer quarter” by just about every measure. Revenue grew 8% and net income popped 21% from the second quarter, figures that suggest that consumers have yet to reach their limit for commerce delivered to their doorsteps.  

Meanwhile, Amazon reported that its operating cash flow increased 56% to $55.3 billion for the trailing 12 months compared to $35.3 billion for the trailing period ended September 30, 2019. Free cash flow (operating cash flow less capital expenditures) also rose to $29.5 billion in the third quarter compared with $23.5 billion in the trailing period ended September 30, 2019. 

Looking ahead, Amazon is bullish on sales, but notes costs related to COVID-19 might affect operating income. The company said it expects sales to grow between 28% and 38% in the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2019, which would bump that figure to between $112 billion and $121 billion.

Amazon said it expects operating income to be between $1 billion and $4.5 billion, compared with $3.9 billion in fourth quarter 2019. This guidance assumes approximately $4 billion of costs related to COVID-19.

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