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What You Need to Know About Amazon's Quarterly Report

Amazon.com's (NASDAQ: AMZN) stock popped last week after the company reported some pretty impressive results in its Q3 earnings.

In this Industry Focus: Tech segment, host Dylan Lewis and Motley Fool contributor Evan Niu look at the most important numbers and trends from the report and explain what they mean for the company. Also, they examine how Amazon's ultra-high-margin AWS segment is slowly but surely growing to become a more significant piece of the pie and how international markets are playing into Amazon's long-term growth strategy.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Nov. 3, 2017.

Dylan Lewis: To kick things off, why don't we talk about Amazon's report? The company generated $43.7 billion in revenue, which was good for 34% year-over-year growth. That resulted in net income of $256 million, roughly $0.52 per share. I mention that growth rate. If you exclude the impact of Whole Foods, the company actually grew at 29%, which is better than what they posted in Q2. So, we saw an acceleration of growth this quarter.

Evan Niu: Yeah. It was a pretty strong quarter all around. This was actually an all-time record for them, too, in terms of the top line revenue. Which is interesting, because they didn't brag about that. You would think they would point that out or call attention to the fact that they just had an all-time record quarter. I mean, it's by a few million dollars, but still it's a pretty meaningful accomplishment. And then, as we're heading into the fourth quarter, sales will be up even more, accelerating even more into the busy holiday shopping season.

Lewis: I guess that's just a testament to how good things are going at Amazon right now, the fact that they don't even feel the need to point that out. [laughs]

Niu: Yeah, they just left the numbers speak for themselves.

Lewis: Two things that they did point out though, for the strong performance. AWS, one of them, Amazon Web Services. We're certainly going to talk about that. And, Prime day, as well. They said they had an incredibly successful Prime day, and that drove a lot of traffic and a lot of transactions on the site. Looking at the business by segment, I think the story is more of the same from what we've come to expect from Amazon. You look at the breakouts here, and North America is doing pretty well at a super low margin. AWS is a fifth of the size and generating a ton of operating margin.

Niu: Yeah, it's kind of the same story you see every quarter. North America is the bulk of revenue, slightly profitable. International is catching up, but they're still messing really heavily structure. I think right now they're focusing really heavy on India and Japan. And speaking of Prime day, they did say that Prime day was especially successful on the international front. They had a record day in terms of sign up for free trials. I think Prime's value proposition is so strong, and investors can expect a lot of those people to convert to paying members, not that Amazon will actually disclose any of these numbers.

Lewis: Of course not.

Niu: But I think it's safe to assume that you're going to get a lot of these people converting to paying members, because Prime is just such a good deal. It's really hard not to justify it, it's such a good deal.

Lewis: Yeah, the value prop is almost silly with how much they're giving you. You touched on the international markets. As of the most recent quarter, that was $13.7 billion in revenue for them, and they are operating at a 7% negative margin for those markets. One market in particular that they highlighted was India. The company launched Prime in the country a year ago, and they have seen more members join than in any other country in the first 12 months of operation. Perhaps not shocking, given the size of the Indian market. But, obviously a good sign for their international efforts.

Niu: Yeah, absolutely. And one of those other quarters in the past year, all they talked about was India and all these little accomplishments they were doing. So, I think we're starting to see the fruits of those efforts. India is humongous. It's the second most populous country on Earth. So, there's definitely a huge opportunity there.

Lewis: And you look at what's going on with their business. We've spent so much time talking about it in the past, but it's worth harping on again here. North America contributed a $25.4 billion in revenue, primarily e-commerce. International, $13.7 billion. AWS, $4.6 billion. So, AWS was a fifth of the size of the North American e-commerce market for them, and yet it generates so much money that it allows them to invest in all these side projects. It allows them to build out the ecosystem for Prime, and it allows them to make all these experimental bets in the hardware space.

Niu: Right. I had an article on this, I think it's really under-appreciated by investors in terms of, everybody knows how much more profitable AWS is. But I think when you combine that with Amazon's characteristic willingness to invest in itself, and they don't really care about profitability in the current period or the near-term. The fact that AWS is so profitable gives them so much more room to work with in terms of flexibility and reinvesting into their own business. Consider the alternative -- if AWS was not here and they had to pay for all these side bets and side businesses with e-commerce profits, the rate at which they could be investing in themselves is really nothing compared to what they do today. So, I think it's this huge thing that really accelerates their ability to reinvest in themselves.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Dylan Lewis owns shares of Amazon. Evan Niu, CFA has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.