FORTUNE -- Despite another quarter of solid sales growth for Amazon (AMZN), the Seattle-based e-commerce goliath saw its stock slide over 8% in after-hours trading.
For the fourth quarter of 2013, profits grew to $239 million, or 51 cents per share, from $97 million the same period before. Revenues climbed 26% year over year to $25.6 million. Profits in particular missed Wall Street's projections of 71 cents per share. Revenue growth also slowed slightly during the fourth quarter, a period that includes the all-important holiday shopping season.
In a press release, the company announced a "record-setting" holiday season for Amazon Prime, the company's popular $79 annual membership. In keeping with tradition however, it did not disclose numbers. (Prime was so popular, the company claimed it occasionally limited the number of membership signups in December.)
Prime's pros did little to soften the news disclosed during Thursday's earnings call that Amazon was mulling over increasing the price of Prime in the U.S. by $20 to $40 -- a bump that could affect millions of existing Prime members. The culprit? Increasing fuel and shipping costs.
As CFO Tom Szkutak pointed out, this is the first time in Prime's nine years that Amazon has considered increasing prices. He also emphasized Prime's growing value, referencing features like the Kindle e-book Loaning Library, and the increase of its movie and TV streaming catalog from 33,000 to 40,000 movies last year. "Member are ordering more items across more categories than ever before," said Szkutak, although again, he declined to give specifics.
In the press release, CEO Jeff Bezos made no reference to the Prime price hike, opting to focus on Amazon's excellent customer service instead. "You can now read your Kindle gate-to-gate, get instant on-device tech support via our revolutionary Mayday button, and have packages delivered to your door even on Sundays," he said. "In just the last weeks, Forrester, YouGov, and ForeSee have all ranked Amazon #1 -- and we believe we're just scratching the surface of what world-class customer service can be."
It's big, bold, and pulls no punches -- just like the company and founder it portrays.
FORTUNE -- I think I know why MacKenzie Bezos hated Brad Stone's book about her husband and his company. It's not because of the "numerous factual inaccuracies" she says are in the book, though she names only one, a mistiming of when Jeff Bezos read a certain influential novel, and shame on Stone for giving MOREAdam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large - Jan 2, 2014 9:27 AM ET
With Amazon Prime Air, your purchases could soon be hovering in a sky above you -- but technological and political hurdles will likely get in the way.
By Clay Dillow
FORTUNE -- The perks of an Amazon Prime membership just keep getting curiouser and curiouser. Amazon (AMZN) -- which announced just last month that it is teaming with the U.S. Postal Service to begin making Sunday deliveries -- late Sunday unveiled MOREDec 2, 2013 1:20 PM ET
Amazon's founder fondly recalls the company's first CFO at her memorial.
FORTUNE -- Jeff Bezos remembers trying to recruit Joy Covey as Amazon's (AMZN) chief financial officer during the mid-1990s. Bezos had flown down from Seattle to California specifically to interview her over lunch.
"She had some brilliant, insightful questions about Amazon -- and I got to interview her, too," Bezos lightly quipped at Covey's memorial service, held Thursday at Stanford Memorial MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Nov 22, 2013 1:16 PM ET
The e-commerce giant's latest quarter was more of the same in some respects -- not necessarily a bad thing.
FORTUNE -- Amazon (AMZN) has long focused on heavy investments into expansion, even at the expense of its bottom line, and the company's latest quarter proved no different.
For the e-commerce giant's third quarter 2013, it reported a loss of 9 cents per share on sales of $17.09 billion. While the loss was expected, the MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Oct 24, 2013 6:42 PM ET
Amazon's latest 7-inch tablet is its most significant update yet.
FORTUNE -- This year marks the first time I'm jazzed about the Kindle Fire -- and not because I interviewed CEO Jeff Bezos in Seattle earlier this month.
No, the problem with Kindle Fires in years past, particularly that first generation, was the tablet experience reminded us that Amazon had catching up to do. The software could sometimes be sluggish, the features limited. MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Oct 2, 2013 12:01 AM ET
Jeff Bezos shows Fortune the lighter, faster future of the company's Kindle tablet line and its new way to help users befuddled by their new devices.JP Mangalindan, Writer - Sep 25, 2013 12:00 AM ET
A glib statement from incoming Post owner Jeff Bezos demands scrutiny. The last thing the Post should do is to mindlessly chase the youth demo.
FORTUNE -- "All businesses need to be young forever," Jeff Bezos told Washington Post staffers on Wednesday. "If your customer base ages with you, you're Woolworth's."
A pithy statement -- glib, even. Not entirely inaccurate, but also not quite accurate, and not anything the Post (WPO) should MOREDan Mitchell, contributor - Sep 6, 2013 11:03 AM ET
Jeff Bezos doesn't have an easy task in righting the Washington Post. Here are few good places to start.
By Ryan Holmes
FORTUNE -- It may be coincidence that the decline of newspapers has corresponded with the rise of social media. Or maybe not.
The two industries are very different, of course: One focuses its lens on the public events that change our world; the other is concerned largely with the personal stuff that happens behind MOREAug 8, 2013 10:45 AM ET
The Amazon founder is building a clock that will last for 1,000 decades. Wait, what?
By Anne VanderMey, reporter
FORTUNE -- As any Amazon (AMZN) investor will tell you, Jeff Bezos believes in long-term thinking. Make that really, really long-term thinking. So long, in fact, that he's spending at least $42 million to build a giant clock that will tick for 10,000 years deep inside a mountain in West Texas.
The clock MOREAug 6, 2013 1:24 PM ET
|Regulators pave way for Internet "fast lane" with net neutrality rules|
|GM's $1.3 billion recall cost wipes out profit|
|Taxpayers are subsidizing CEO pay - The Buzz|
|Coffee prices skyrocket after Brazil drought - The Buzz|
|Female gun instructors in hot demand|