Amazon announces Q4 2011 results: sales jump to $17.43 billion, but profits drop 58 percent

Amazon’s just announced its earnings for the fourth quarter of the year, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag. While net sales were up 35 percent year-over-year to $17.43 billion, net income dropped a hefty 58 percent to $177 million, or 38 cents a share — that’s off analysts’ expectations, who were looking for sales in the neighborhood of $18.3 billion and earnings of 17 cents a share. As always, the company is remaining mum on any specific Kindle sales figures, but it says that sales of all Kindle devices nearly tripled over the holiday shopping season, and that the Kindle Fire remains the bestselling item across all of the products it offers; of course, the loss it’s taking on each one is also one of the big reasons for that drop in profits.

Specific figures are equally hard to come by for some of Amazon’s other services, but the company says the number of Appstore for Android customers has nearly tripled from the previous quarter (with them downloading more apps in Q4 than all of the previous quarters combined), and that the number of Instant Video customers has more than doubled year-over-year (with the number of streams increasing 300 percent from the previous quarter). Looking at the full year, sales for all of 2011 totaled $48.08 billion, up 41 percent from $34.2 billion in 2010, while net income dropped 45 percent to $631 million (down from $1.15 billion in 2010). And as for the future, Amazon is also lowering expectations somewhat for the first quarter of 2012, projecting that revenue will come in at $12 to $13.4 billion, and that net income could range from a $200 million loss to a gain of $100 million.

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