Singapore Markets closed

Amazon Earnings Trounce Expectations: 5 Metrics You Should See

Beth McKenna, The Motley Fool

Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) reported first-quarter 2019 results after the market closed on Thursday. 

As it did in all four quarters of last year, the e-commerce and cloud computing behemoth crushed Wall Street's earnings consensus estimate. Revenue met expectations.

Shares were trading up 0.5% in after-hours trading on Thursday, as of 7:15 p.m. EDT. We can probably attribute the market's muted reaction to second-quarter revenue guidance coming in somewhat lighter than the Street had been projecting.

Here's an overview of Amazon's quarter, along with its guidance for the second quarter of 2019, using five metrics.

An Amazon box

Image source: Amazon.com.

1. Revenue jumped 17%

Amazon's net quarterly sales increased 17% year over year to $59.7 billion, coming in on target with the $59.65 billion Wall Street had expected and landing at the high end of the company's guidance range of $56 billion to $60 billion. Excluding the $1.1 billion loss from foreign exchange, revenue climbed 19%.

For context, in Q4 2018, revenue rose 20% year over year.

Here's how segment growth shook out:

Segment

Revenue Q1 2019

Change (YOY)

North America

$35.81 billion

17%

International

$16.19 billion

9%

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

$7.70 billion

41%

Total

$59.70 billion

17%

YOY=year over year. Data source: Amazon. 

AWS, the company's cloud computing service, continued to post torrid revenue growth. In constant currency, year-over-year growth decelerated a little from last quarter's 46%. This is nothing to be concerned about, as we can expect quarterly variations. Moreover, the larger the segment gets, the more challenging it becomes to grow revenue on the same percentage basis. 

In constant currency, AWS's revenue has increased year over year as follows: 42% in Q1 2019, 46% in Q4 2018, 46% in Q3 2018, 49% in Q2 2018, 48% in Q1 2018, 44% in Q4 2017, and 42% in Q3 2017.

Breaking out revenue another way:

  • Online retail sales grew 10% year over year as reported, and 12% in constant currency, to $29.50 billion.
  • Physical-store sales (which primarily consist of Whole Foods store sales) edged up 1% on both a reported and constant currency basis to $4.31 billion. This number doesn't include online orders from Whole Foods via the Prime Now app. Including online sales, Whole Foods' revenue increased about 6% year over year, CFO Brian Olsavsky said on the earnings call.
  • Third-party seller commission and fulfillment fees rose 20% as reported, and 23% in constant currency, to $11.14 billion. 
  • Subscription services (Prime and other) jumped 40% as reported, and 42% in constant currency, to $4.34 billion. 
  • AWS sales surged 41% as reported, and 42% in constant currency, to $7.70 billion.
  • Other sales (primarily comprised of advertising revenue) jumped 34% as reported, and 36% in constant currency, to $2.72 billion. 

2. Operating income soared 129%

Operating income leapt 129% year over year to $4.42 billion, crushing Amazon's guidance of $2.3 billion to $3.3 billion. As was the case last year, increased efficiencies in North America and AWS drove the growth in operating income. International's loss contracted significantly, which also helped. 

Segment

Operating Income Q1 2019

Change (YOY)

North America

$2.29 billion

99%

International

($90 million)

Loss narrowed $532 million, or 86%

AWS

$2.22 billion

59%

Total

$4.42 billion

129%

Data source: Amazon.

AWS continues to get more profitable on a year-over-year basis. Its operating margin (operating income divided by revenue) was 28.9% in the quarter, up from 25.7% in the year-ago period, though down slightly from 29.3% in the fourth quarter of 2018.

3. EPS rocketed 117% 

Net income jumped 119% year over year to $3.56 billion. On a per-share basis, earnings per share (EPS) leaped 117% to $7.09.

4. Operating cash flow surged 89% over the trailing-12-month period

Operating cash flow rose 89% year over year to $34.4 billion for the trailing 12 months. Free cash flow skyrocketed 215% to $23.0 billion.

5. Revenue growth of 13% to 20% is expected in Q2 2019

For the second quarter of 2019, Amazon guided for net sales of $59.5 billion to $63.5 billion, representing growth of 13% to 20% year over year. The median of this range, $61.5 billion, is somewhat lower than the $62.38 billion Wall Street was projecting. 

The company expects operating income in the range of $2.6 billion to $3.6 billion, representing a contraction of 13% to growth of 20%  from the $3.0 billion operating income in the year-ago period. 

The bottom line

In short, Amazon turned in another great quarter.

Its second-quarter 2019 operating income outlook range is quite wide. There's a significant difference between operating income contacting 13% and growing 20% year over year. Given that Amazon tends to issue conservative guidance, it seems probable that second-quarter operating income will exceed 20%.

Investors shouldn't be concerned about this guidance, as the company is investing to fuel long-term growth. Olsavsky said on the earnings call that Amazon plans to spend about $800 million in the second quarter on upgrading Amazon Prime's core two-day free delivery benefit to a one-day free delivery benefit. 

More From The Motley Fool

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Beth McKenna has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.