Technology

Amazon's profit more than triples as pandemic boom continues

As physical stores temporarily closed, people stuck at home turned to Amazon to buy groceries, cleaning supplies and more.

Amazon’s pandemic boom is not showing signs of slowing down.

The company said on Thursday that its first-quarter profit more than tripled from a year ago, fuelled by the growth of online shopping.

It also posted revenue of more than 100 billion dollars, the second quarter in row that the company has passed that milestone.

Online sales tax
Amazon fulfillment centre in Swansea (Ben Birchall/PA)

Amazon is one of the few retailers that has benefited during the pandemic. As physical stores temporarily closed, people stuck at home turned to Amazon to buy groceries, cleaning supplies and more.

In the first three months of this year, the company reported profit of 8.1 billion dollars (£5.8 billion), compared to 2.5 billion dollars (£1.8 billion) the year before.

Earnings per share came to 15.79 dollars, about six dollars more per share than what Wall Street analysts expected, according to FactSet.

Revenue jumped 44% to 108.5 billion dollars (£77.5 billion).

Amazon is one of four American companies that have reported quarterly revenue above 100 billion dollars. The others are iPhone maker Apple, oil and gas company Exxon Mobil and retailer Walmart.

Amazon said revenue will remain at that level in the second quarter, expecting between 110 billion and 116 billion dollars.

Part of the reason why: It plans to hold Prime Day, its popular sales event, during the quarter. Amazon did not specify a date for Prime Day, but said it would happen before the end of June.

Besides online shopping, Amazon’s other businesses grew, too. Sales at its cloud-computing business, which helps powers the online operations of Netflix, McDonald’s and other companies, grew 32% in the quarter.

And its ad business, where brands pay to get their products to show up first when shoppers search on the site, rose about 77%.

Amazon’s growth comes as the company faces activism from within its workforce. Workers at a warehouse in Alabama tried to unionise, saying they wanted better pay and more break time. But a majority of voters batted down that effort.

This week, Amazon announced it was giving more than 500,000 workers a raise of between 50 cents and three dollars an hour starting next month to attract new workers. The company already pays at least 15 dollars an hour.

The online giant has been on a hiring spree to keep up with a surge in orders. It had 1.27 million employees at the end of March, adding more than 430,000 people in the last year.

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