Amazon is more profitable than ever after a year of mass layoffs

Amazon recorded its highest operating profit in its history in the holiday quarter of 2023, buoyed by revenue growth across all its major business lines and a year of heavy cost-cutting under the direction of CEO Andy Jassy.

The company announced on Thursday that its operating income – or profit from its core business operations that excludes certain items like investments in other firms and interest expenses – grew 383% year over year to $13.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023, marking the second straight quarter in which Amazon has achieved its highest operating profit ever.

The record profits come as Jassy, who took over for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2021, continues to put his own stamp on the tech giant, in part through heavy job cuts.

Amazon previously announced 27,000 corporate layoffs, which began in 2022 and continued into 2023, marking the largest corporate layoff in the tech giant’s history. Then, earlier this year, Amazon announced hundreds of job cuts across its gaming and video divisions. Going forward, Amazon isn’t opposed to making more job cuts either, Amazon chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said in a call with reporters on Thursday.

Amazon will “continue to be careful on what we invest in, continue to invest in new things and new areas…[but] where we can find efficiencies and do more with less, we are going to do that as well.”

Amazon, under Jassy, is boosting its bottom line through other means as well. Revenue growth inside Amazon’s two most profitable divisions – Amazon Web Services and Amazon’s massive advertising business – accelerated in the fourth quarter, and Olsavsky said the company expects that acceleration to continue in AWS into 2024.

While Amazon declined to say how much of AWS’ growth is coming from a surge of corporate interest in generative AI apps and services, Jassy told Wall Street analysts that he expects the area to produce tens of billions of dollars in revenue in the coming years.

The record operating profit was just one highlight from a blockbuster fourth-quarter earnings report that sent Amazon shares up more than 8% in after-hours trading. Revenue from Amazon’s online retail business in North America grew 8% excluding currency fluctuations, marking the fastest growth for that segment in five quarters. Executives said the massive e-commerce business benefited from expanded holiday promotions and increased delivery speeds that successfully attracted many last-minute holiday shoppers.

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