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Amazon.com Announces Fourth Quarter Sales up 18% to $6.70 Billion; 2008 Free Cash Flow Grows 16% to $1.36 Billion

To view the complete press release including the financial statements, metrics, and mini-MD&A, click here.

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced financial results for its fourth quarter ended December 31, 2008.

Operating cash flow was $1.70 billion in 2008, compared with $1.41 billion in 2007. Free cash flow increased 16% to $1.36 billion in 2008, compared with $1.18 billion in 2007.

Common shares outstanding plus shares underlying stock-based awards outstanding totaled 446 million on December 31, 2008, compared with 435 million a year ago.

Net sales increased 18% to $6.70 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $5.67 billion in fourth quarter 2007. Excluding the $320 million unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales would have grown 24% compared with fourth quarter 2007.

Operating income was $272 million in the fourth quarter, compared with $271 million in fourth quarter 2007. Excluding the $26 million unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, operating income would have grown 10% compared with fourth quarter 2007.

Net income increased 9% to $225 million in the fourth quarter, or $0.52 per diluted share, compared with net income of $207 million, or $0.48 per diluted share, in fourth quarter 2007.

“We remain relentlessly focused on serving customers with low prices, great selection and free shipping offers, including Amazon Prime,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “We’re particularly grateful for the unusually strong demand for Kindle in the fourth quarter.”

Full Year 2008

Net sales increased 29% to $19.17 billion, or 28% excluding the $127 million favorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the year, compared with $14.84 billion in 2007.

Operating income increased 28% to $842 million, or 27% excluding the $10 million favorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the year, compared with $655 million in 2007. Included in 2008 operating income is a $53 million non-cash gain recognized on the sale of the Company’s European DVD rental assets.

Net income increased 36% to $645 million in 2008, or $1.49 per diluted share, compared with net income of $476 million, or $1.12 per diluted share, in 2007.

Highlights

  • North America segment sales, representing the Company’s U.S. and Canadian sites, were $3.63 billion, up 18% from fourth quarter 2007.
  • International segment sales, representing the Company’s U.K., German, Japanese, French and Chinese sites, were $3.07 billion, up 19% from fourth quarter 2007. Excluding the unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, International sales grew 31%.
  • Worldwide Media sales grew 9% to $3.64 billion, compared with $3.33 billion in fourth quarter 2007.
  • Worldwide Electronics & Other General Merchandise sales grew 31% to $2.89 billion, compared with $2.21 billion in fourth quarter 2007, and increased to 43% of worldwide net sales compared with 39%.
  • Amazon.com introduced Frustration-Free Packaging, a multi-year initiative designed to make it easier for consumers to liberate items from their packaging by eliminating hard plastic clamshell cases, plastic bindings and plastic-coated wire ties. Frustration-Free Packaging is also more environmentally friendly than traditional packaging. The program launched with products from leading manufacturers including Fisher-Price, Mattel, Microsoft and Transcend.
  • Amazon.com shipped over 3 million units worldwide in fourth quarter 2008 on behalf of sellers who utilized Fulfillment by Amazon.
  • Amazon.co.uk launched the Amazon MP3 music service, offering more than 4 million DRM-free songs from all four major and hundreds of independent labels that can be played on any MP3 player.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched Amazon CloudFront, a self-service, pay-as-you-go web service for content delivery enabling global content distribution and seamless integration with Amazon S3.
  • AWS launched the ability to run Microsoft Windows Server on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and enabled customers to run their Amazon EC2 instances in two Availability Zones within a new European Region with full-service features like Elastic IP addresses and Amazon Elastic Block Store.
  • AWS introduced tiered pricing for Amazon S3, enabling customers’ costs to decrease as their storage volume grows.
  • The Kindle Store contains the largest collection of e-books available anywhere in the world. Selection increased by 45,000 titles in the fourth quarter, bringing the total to 230,000 titles. One hundred three out of 112 current New York Times bestsellers are available and, along with most new releases, are priced at $9.99 or less. In addition, the Kindle Store recently added The Arizona Republic, The Baltimore Sun, The Orange County Register and USA Today and now offers newspapers from 8 of the top 10 metro areas in the United States.

Financial Guidance

The following forward-looking statements reflect Amazon.com’s expectations as of January 29, 2009. Our results are inherently unpredictable and may be materially affected by many factors, such as fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, changes in global economic conditions and consumer spending, world events, the rate of growth of the Internet and online commerce and the various factors detailed below.

First Quarter 2009 Guidance

  • Net sales are expected to be between $4.525 billion and $4.925 billion, or to grow between 9% and 19% compared with first quarter 2008.
  • Operating income is expected to be between $125 million and $210 million, or between 37% decline and 6% growth compared with first quarter 2008. This guidance includes approximately $75 million for stock-based compensation and amortization of intangible assets, and it assumes, among other things, that no additional business acquisitions or investments are concluded and that there are no further revisions to stock-based compensation estimates.

A conference call will be webcast live today at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET, and will be available for at least three months at www.amazon.com/ir. This call will contain forward-looking statements and other material information regarding the Company’s financial and operating results.

These forward-looking statements are inherently difficult to predict. Actual results could differ materially for a variety of reasons, including, in addition to the factors discussed above, the amount that Amazon.com invests in new business opportunities and the timing of those investments, the mix of products sold to customers, the mix of net sales derived from products as compared with services, the extent to which we owe income taxes, competition, management of growth, potential fluctuations in operating results, international growth and expansion, the outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment center optimization, risks of inventory management, seasonality, the degree to which the Company enters into, maintains and develops commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, and risks of fulfillment throughput and productivity. Other risks and uncertainties include, among others, risks related to new products, services and technologies, system interruptions, indebtedness, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. In addition, the current global economic climate amplifies many of these risks. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com’s financial results is included in Amazon.com’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings.

About Amazon.com

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth's Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of unique new, refurbished and used items in categories such as Books; Movies, Music & Games; Digital Downloads; Computers & Office; Electronics; Home & Garden; Grocery, Health & Beauty; Toys, Kids & Baby; Apparel, Shoes & Jewelry; Sports & Outdoors; and Tools, Auto & Industrial.

Amazon Web Services provides Amazon’s developer customers with access to in-the-cloud infrastructure services based on Amazon's own back-end technology platform, which developers can use to enable virtually any type of business. Examples of the services offered by Amazon Web Services are Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Elastic Block Store, Amazon SimpleDB, Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), Amazon Flexible Payments Service (Amazon FPS), Amazon Mechanical Turk and Amazon CloudFront.

Amazon and its affiliates operate websites, including www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.co.jp, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.ca, and www.amazon.cn.

As used herein, “Amazon.com,” “we,” “our” and similar terms include Amazon.com, Inc., and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise.

To view the complete press release including the financial statements, metrics, and mini-MD&A, click here.

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