Feb. 2 (UPI) — Amazon’s quarterly profits exceded $1 billion for the first time in the midst of several moves to expand beyond online retailing, an earnings report released Thursday indicates.
The Seattle-based company’s profit reached $1.9 billion during the fourth quarter, which included the annual holiday shopping boom, nearly doubling its year-end profits from 2016.
Amazon’s fourth-quarter gains include a tax benefit of $789 million the company received due to the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Overall revenue rose 38 percent to $60.5 billion in the fourth quarter, reaching the high end of the company’s forecast.
Amazon reported profits of $3 billion for the entire year 2017, up from $2.4 billion in 2016.
The company also said it hired 130,000 employees globally in 2017; it employs more than 17,500 veterans and military spouses in the United States and plans to hire more than 10,000 more by 2021.
CEO Jeff Bezos said the company “far exceeded” its expectations for sales of its Alexa smart speaker and plans to “double down” on the device moving forward.
“We’ve reached an important point where other companies and developers are accelerating adoption of Alexa,” Bezos said. “There are now over 30,000 skills from outside developers, customers can control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands with Alexa, and we’re seeing strong response to our new far-field voice kit for manufacturers. Much more to come and a huge thank you to our customers and partners.”
Earlier this year Amazon reported its subscription-based Prime service shipped more than 5 billion items in 2017 with more than 100 million items eligible for unlimited free two-day shipping in the United States.
It also gathered more than 18.4 million views hosting NFL Thursday Night Football on its Prime video service.
Amazon expanded its physical retail market when it acquired Whole Foods in June and opened its first checkout-free Amazon Go story in Seattle on Jan. 22.
The retailer announced plans Tuesday to enter the healthcare market in a joint venture with financial institutions Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase.
Amazon said it expects net sales between $47.75 billion and $50.75 billion in the first quarter of 2018 as well as operating income between $300 million and $1 billion.