Amazon reports record profits for third quarter in a row

/ CBS/AP

Amazon becomes America's most valuable company

Amazon.com reported its third record quarterly profit in a row, showing increasing strength in its Amazon Web Services cloud-services division along with continuing increases in retail sales.

The online behemoth reported fourth-quarter profit of just over $3 billion, a jump of 59 percent from the year-ago period, beating Wall Street expectations. Amazon's revenue of almost $72.4 billion in the period also exceeded Street forecasts of $71.7 billion, according to Zacks Investment Research.

"Amazon's Q4 was impressive on multiple fronts, with the strength of AWSalmost becoming a 'broken record' as it continued to generate almost geometric sales growth with still-high margins, more than offsetting investment-impacted International operating losses," said Charlie O'Shea, lead analyst for Amazon at Moody's.

The company's subscription services grew 45 percent from a year ago, while advertising revenue nearly doubled, to $3.4 billion for the quarter.

"Thanks to the growing devotion of its advertisers, Amazon's ad business is growing robustly," Monica Peart, senior director of eMarketer, said this week, noting that it was "chipping away at search ad dollars that were once going to Google."

For the current quarter ending in April, Amazon said it expects revenue in the range of $56 billion to $60 billion. Analysts surveyed by Zacks had expected revenue of close to $61.2 billion.

Amazon shares have risen 14 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index has increased nearly 8 percent and the Nasdaq composite has risen 9.7 percent. Amazon stock closed at $1,718 on Thursday, a rise of 18 percent over the last 12 months, and its latest market value of $840.4 billion makes it the most valuable public company in the world.

CBS News' Irina Ivanova and Alain Sherter contributed reporting.

First published on January 31, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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