Amazon’s sales and profits soar as lockdowns keep shoppers online

Amazon reported blowout sales and profits on Thursday as coronavirus lockdowns kept shoppers buying everything from diapers to groceries on the web.

The Seattle-based e-tailing giant — whose billionaire boss Jeff Bezos weathered a grilling on Capitol Hill Thursday, with top lawmakers probing the company’s fierce competitive practices — shattered Wall Street’s expectations for the quarter, reporting earnings per share of $10.30 while analysts had been expecting just $1.46.

Amazon’s revenue clocked in at $88.9 billion, beating forecasts of $81.2 billion.

The company’s shares in after-hours trading were up 5.5 percent at 3,219.79.

Amazon has been a major beneficiary of extended lockdowns due to the pandemic, with revenue climbing as customers have increasingly shunned brick-and-mortar stores in favor of home delivery.

“This was another highly unusual quarter, and I couldn’t be more proud of and grateful to our employees around the globe,” Bezos said in a statement, adding that Amazon has created “over 175,000 new jobs since March” and is working to turn 125,000 of the workers into full-time employees.

The company’s Amazon Web Services cloud computing business missed forecasts, however, bringing in $10.8 billion in revenue versus the predicted $11 billion.

The company’s stock is up more than 30 percent since its last earnings report at the end of April, and more than 70 percent since Covid-19 related lockdowns began in the United States in March.

The stock climb has allowed Bezos to run away with the title of world’s richest man, with his $182 billion fortune putting him $69 billion ahead of No. 2 Bill Gates. Just over $170 billion of his net worth is Amazon stock, while the rest comes from his Blue Origin rocket company and personal cash and assets, according to Bloomberg.

For Bezos to become the first person with a net worth of $200 billion, Amazon’s stock would need to climb just over $3,400. It finished at $3,051.88 at Thursday’s close, but climbed 5 percent in extended trading, to $3,205.54.

Bezos last quarter warned investors that Amazon would be spending the entirety of its $4 billion operating profit on safety measures to protect its massive workforce, with investments ranging from personal protective equipment for its hundreds of thousands of employees, “enhanced cleaning” of its facilities, higher wages for hourly workers as well as “hundreds of millions” of dollars to develop its coronavirus testing capabilities.

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