Amazon says holiday shopping has begun early as revenues beat forecast

Amazon recorded another quarter of blistering profit growth, earning $6.3bn between July and September, up from $2.1bn in the same period last year and beating Wall Street expectations by 71 per cent.

Revenues of $96.1bn — boosted by the effects of the pandemic, which has pushed consumers into online shopping — also came in comfortably over estimates.

But its stock fell a little over 1 per cent in after-hours trading, as a result of mounting costs and continued sluggish growth in its cloud computing business AWS.

The company now employs more than 1m people worldwide, up 50 per cent this year — not including contractors, such as delivery drivers, or seasonal workers.

Amazon gave a broad range of possible profit outcomes for the all-important fourth quarter, estimating operating income between $1bn and $4.5bn. Sales for the period, which includes Christmas, will be $112bn-$121bn, it said, versus a consensus of Wall Street predictions of $111bn.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, said the company was staffing up for the season.

“We’re seeing more customers than ever shopping early for their holiday gifts, which is just one of the signs that this is going to be an unprecedented holiday season,” he said.

The company said it would incur $4bn in costs related to Covid-19 measures, up from $2bn in the third quarter, a rise that Amazon said could be attributed to a larger number of employees, new warehouses and productivity losses related to social distancing and other measures.

Its Covid-19 testing capabilities for employees would reach 50,000 tests a day by November, it said.

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