The ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic helped Amazon record its first quarter to pass $100bn in revenue – and it grew profits 118 per cent.
Business has been booming for the e-retailer as netizens, stuck at home in lock down to avoid the web-era plague, turned to online shopping as stores shut down and travel was restricted. Amid the release of Amazon's full-year financial figures on Tuesday, CEO Jeff Bezos, who founded his now-cyber-empire back when it just sold books in the mid-1990s, is to hand over the reins to Andy Jassy in the summer this year.
Jassy right now leads Amazon Web Services, the super-corp's cloud computing wing. Amazon’s CFO Brian Olsavsky told analysts during a conference call to discuss the results that it was important to remember Bezos isn’t leaving the company; he will serve as its executive chairman to keep an eye on everything, er, we mean, lead the board of directors.
Bezos has spent more than a quarter-century leading Amazon, and plans to use his upcoming free time to focus on his other ventures, including aerospace company Blue Origins and newspaper The Washington Post, all the while steering Amazon's new products.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to step down in the summer, AWS boss Andy Jassy to step upREAD MORE
“We’re very happy to see Jeff and Andy get new perspectives,” Olsavsky told analysts during the call. “Andy will get an opportunity to have his print on Amazon. It’ll be very exciting to see his transition in Q3.”
AWS has been growing under Jassy, not just in terms of revenue but also profit. Out of Amazon's North America retail division, its international counterpart, and AWS, the cloud platform had the highest operating income of all three in 2020 at $13.5bn, up 47 per cent year-on-year. Amazon is expected to reap more profit from the cloud as top names including JPMorgan, Thomson Reuters, and Twitter commit to transferring their computing infrastructure over to AWS.
Olsavsky claimed the tech titan as a whole now has a total of 1.3 million workers, and grew by 500,000 in 2020 to cope with the extra demand on its warehouses to ship everything. He urged staff at Amazon and Whole Foods who have a higher risk of catching the virus to get vaccinated as soon as they can.
Amazon’s financial earnings coincided with the $61.7m the web giant agreed to cough up after being accused of stealing its independent delivery drivers’ tips and cutting their way without warning.
Here's a summary of Amazon's Q4 and FY2020 numbers, covering the three and 12 months to December 31:
- Net sales of $125.6bn in Q4, up 44 per cent from the $87.4bn compared to the quarter a year ago. Total sales for 2020 was $386.1bn, up 38 per cent from $280.5bn in 2019.
- Of those sales, in Q4, AWS was responsible for $12.7bn, up 28 per cent; Amazon North America retail did $75.3bn, up 40 per cent; and Amazon international retail did $37.5bn, up 57 per cent. For the full year, AWS: $45.4bn, up 30 per cent; Amazon NA: $236.3bn, up 38 per cent; and Amazon international: $104.4bn, up 40 per cent.
- Operating income of $6.9bn in Q4, a jump of 77 per cent from $3.9bn in Q4 2019. Total operating income for 2020 was $22.9bn, compared to $14.5bn in 2019, up 58 per cent.
- Net income of $7.2bn in Q4, an increase of 118 per cent from $3.3bn this time last year. For the whole year, Amazon banked a total of $21.3bn in net income, up 83 per cent from $11.6bn in 2019.
Amazon’s share price inched up 1.11 per cent to $3,380 apiece as of the time of writing. ®