The world’s largest online retailer Amazon made more sales than expected in the Christmas quarter despite fears of inflation and recession. Revenues increased in the three months to the end of December by nine percent year-on-year to $ 149.2 billion (136.7 billion euros), as the group announced on Thursday after the US stock market closed.

Experts had expected significantly lower growth. However, higher spending pushed operating profit down from $3.5 billion to $2.7 billion. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said bringing costs under control is a top priority on a conference call with investors.

Elimination of more than 18,000 jobs

Amazon had to spend a lot of money because of austerity measures such as the closure of unprofitable shops and a large wave of layoffs. What is intended to reduce costs in the long term initially caused some. According to Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky, severance payments had a negative impact of $640 million.

After a hiring offensive due to the order boom at the beginning of the pandemic, Amazon again sharply reduced its number of employees in view of the difficult economic situation. At the beginning of January, CEO Andy Jassy announced that more than 18,000 jobs would be cut.

The net profit amounted to only 278 million dollars in the fourth quarter. However, this was mainly due to a value correction of the stake in the ailing electric car manufacturer Rivian. The numbers were not well received by investors: the stock initially fell by six percent in after-hours trading, but later recovered somewhat. In the past year, the price had collapsed by around 50 percent.

Cloud business falls short of expectations

Amazon’s outlook for the current quarter disappointed with a sales forecast of $121 billion to $126 billion and an expected operating profit of between zero and four billion. In addition, the important cloud business has not recently grown as strongly as hoped.

The boom in the division, which is considered the group’s profit center because of its high profit margins, continues to subside. The cloud platform AWS, which offers many other companies storage space and applications on the Internet, only managed to grow sales by 20 percent to $ 21.3 billion in the fourth quarter – less than assumed on Wall Street.

In the previous quarter, revenue here had increased by 27 percent and even that was a significant weakening in a longer-term comparison. Amazon’s chief financial officer, Olsavsky, braced investors for cloud growth to slow further in the coming quarters.