Amazon's Q3 net sales jump 34 percent

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The quarterly report is exactly what Amazon needs as its pivots to the holiday season.

Amazon added a whopping 159,500 employees in the last quarter, pushing its total employment to 541,900 people worldwide, according to new numbers from the tech giant released today. With improved profitability, rapidly rising revenue, continued success of its Alexa-enabled devices, and more, Amazon's third quarter was a big win for shareholders.

The world's largest online retailer said net income rose to $256 million, or 52 cents per share in the quarter ending September 30.

O'Shea also noted revenue growth and operating income at AWS "more than offset" the loss Amazon took on through investments in its worldwide business. Operating income at the low end of this guidance could have meant a steep year-over-year decline in net income.

Amazon's strong financial performance in 2017 briefly saw Mr Bezos replace Bill Gates as the world's richest person, before a dip in share prices saw him fall from top spot.

Impressively, Amazon has managed to increase the pace of growth from its online stores, where sales increased by 22% over the prior year. Headcount grew by 77 per cent year-over-year in the quarter, including the impact of the Whole Foods and Souq acquisitions. Analysts had predicted just over $42 billion in revenue.

Amazon said that for the fourth quarter, it expects revenues in a range of $56 to $60.5 billion, representing growth of 28 to 38 percent compared with a year ago. But excluding Whole Foods and favorable foreign exchange rates, revenue is still up 29 percent year-over-year. But this is far from the truth. Here's what to expect from the king of e-commerce. Meanwhile, Amazon's global e-commerce business fared even worse, losing $936 million during the quarter. Operating income is expected to be between 300 million and 1.65 billion dollars compared with 1.3 billion dollars in fourth quarter 2016. GlobalData Retail's Saunders said his firm sees Prime "as a critical tool to extend Amazon's customer reach, gather customer data, and to lock in loyalty in an increasingly fickle marketplace".

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"And it's working - customers have purchased tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices, given Echo devices over 100,000 5-star reviews, and active customers are up more than five times since the same time a year ago".

"In the last month alone, we've launched five new Alexa-enabled devices, introduced Alexa in India, announced integration with BMW, surpassed 25,000 skills, integrated Alexa with Sonos speakers, taught Alexa to distinguish between two voices, and more", Bezos said.

The subscription option offers these new features and provides an illustration of how Alexa skill monetization can work for other developers as well. Image source: Amazon.com.

Amazon's other huge announcement this quarter, the plan to build a second North American headquarters, will bring another 50,000 jobs to the winning bidder. Given Amazon's appetite for growth - even when it comes at the expense of near-term profitability - it seemed logical that Amazon might spend a significant sum integrating Whole Foods' operations into its business. Whole Foods' operating income was $21 million.

The stock price rose almost 8% in after-hours trading on October 26.

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Amazon now pays developers out of its own pocket to create the skills, which Echo users are then able to download and install onto their Alexa at no charge. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon.

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