Online retailing giant Amazon Inc. gains largest profit in its history

NEW YORK: Inc on Thursday reported a profit near $2 billion, the largest in its history, as the online retailer drew millions of new customers to its Prime fast-shipping club for the holiday season and as changes to US tax law added to its bottom line.

Shares rose more than 6 per cent in extended trading, after previously closing down 4pc on the Nasdaq.

Seattle-based Amazon is using fast shipping, television shows exclusive to its website and forays into new technology, such as its voice-controlled Alexa devices, to attract high-spending Prime members. Amazon said price cuts at Whole Foods Market, which it acquired for $13.7bn last year, are helping it win grocery sales, too.

The world’s largest online retailer said net income more than doubled to $1.86bn, or $3.75 per share in the fourth quarter ended Dec 31.

Its profit received a provisional $789m boost from the US Republican tax bill passed in December.

Analysts on average were expecting just $1.85 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

“This was another blow-out quarter for Amazon,” said GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives. “The retail strength was eye-popping as the company had a banner holiday season and looked to capture roughly 50pc of all e-commerce holiday season sales.”