Amazon Tanks After Earnings: Were The Figures That Bad?

The figures are out. So how did (NAS: AMZN) fare with its latest round of digits?

Fourth-quarter sales jumped 35% to $17.43 billion, which was light of the $18.2 billion that the Street was modeling for. Backing out some favorable foreign exchange-rate effects knocks off one point from that growth rate. On the bright side, looking at the bottom line wasn't nearly as gloomy as analysts had expected. Net income fell by 58% to $177 million, or $0.38 per share, which is double the $0.19 consensus estimate.

For the full year, revenue jumped 41% to $48.08 billion, while net income soared 45% to $631 million, coming out to $1.37 per diluted share. Operating income fell by 39% to $862 million.

Over the booming holiday season, Kindle unit sales, including the Google (NAS: GOOG) Android-running Kindle Fire, jumped 177% over last year, meaning the lineup's unit sales nearly tripled. Amazon said the Fire is the "No. 1 bestselling, most gifted, and most wished for product" on the site.

That's about as close as you'll get to any juicy details on Kindle Fire unit sales, since Amazon is notoriously mum on that front. Analysts have been estimating upwards of 6 million Fires shipped during the fourth quarter, which may not stack up well next to the 15.4 million iPads that Apple (NAS: AAPL) just moved, but trounces its Android brethren. For example, Motorola Mobility (NYS: MMI) just announced 200,000 tablets shipped last quarter, taking all year just to reach six figures in shipments.

Shares are down almost 8% in extended trading as of this writing. What are investors so jittery about? The top-line miss is one thing, for starters. But first-quarter guidance also warns that Amazon may see an operating loss between $200 million and an operating income of $100 million. That range represents a declines 162% and 69%, respectively.

While that sounds a little ominous, remember that Amazon said the exact same thing last quarter, predicting between an operating loss of $200 million and income of $250 million for the fourth quarter. From that perspective, Amazon topped its guidance, since the quarter's final operating income tallied up to $260 million.

I'll parse through the figures a little more deeply tomorrow, but for now the digits really don't strike me as all that bad. Although I did have a hunch that shares would tumble due to all the sinister language about plunging metrics.

What do you think? Are you disappointed with Amazon's results? Or do they kindle your fire? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

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