Amazon Beats Forecasts, Notches $9.5 Billion In Ad Sales

After a rough few quarters, Amazon got its expectation-busting groove back, topping forecasts for both sales and profits. The Seattle-based company reported sales of $127.4 billion in the first quarter, 9% higher than $116.4 billion in the first quarter of last year. On a constant currency basis, those gains are 11%.

Net income grew to $3.2 billion, compared to last year's painful $3.8 billion loss.

Revenue at the company's advertising services division came in at $9.51 billion, up from $7.87 billion in the comparable period last year. That's a 23% gain, excluding foreign currency.

"Our advertising business continues to deliver robust growth," said Andy Jassy, Amazon's chief executive officer, in the announcement. He added that growth is "largely due to our ongoing machine learning investments that help customers see relevant information when they engage with us, which delivers unusually strong results for brands."



The company noted plenty of other strengths, including fulfillment, which is likely to generate its fastest Prime delivery speeds yet this year.

Still, there were plenty of segments that showed signs of stress. Operating income at AWS slipped to $5.1 billion, compared to $6.5 billion in the year-ago period, as companies pulled back computing budgets amid uncertainty.

The company has made a series of announcements in recent weeks signaling different ways it's pulling back, after announcing layoffs of up to 18,000 people earlier this year. Two weeks ago, it said it would lose another 9,000. It also recently started reductions at AWS, in advertising studios, its Prime studios, and Twitch, its live-streamer.

In March, it put construction for its second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, on hold.

And earlier this week, it threw in the towel on Halo, its fitness tracker, and said it would close that division.

"That wide-range forecast on the bottom line speaks to the general economic uncertainty," writes Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, in his note.

"It also underscores that Amazon, like everyone else, is now living in different times, which necessitates new thinking and new approaches. Adjustment and adaptation will remain the theme of the year ahead."

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