May 25, 2018

Amazon increasing Prime membership fee from $99 to $119

27 April 2018, 10:10 | Yvette Williams

Amazon to raise Prime membership in US to $119 from $99

Woman in the Amazon jungle

Amazon Web Services is setting the pace for the cloud computing market once again, growing 49 percent in its first quarter, a slightly better pace than it did throughout 2017.

Amazon's results bucked expectations that it would plow more profit into investments, as it has done in the past.

The estimate among analysts was that Amazon's profit would shrink from the prior year.

A year prior, the company reported earnings of $1.48 per share on revenue of $35.71 billion. In 2014, Amazon announced a $20 price increase that raised the annual rate to $99; it has stayed at that rate for the past few years and was later joined by an alternative (and more expensive) monthly option.

Amazon shares closed Thursday up almost 4 percent to $1,517.96.

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Sales from North America jumped 46 percent to $30.73 billion from $20.99 billion a year ago, while worldwide sales rose 34 percent to $29.58 billion.

Amazon's revenue received a big lift from the company's acquisition of Whole Foods Markets previous year. Prime, which offers unlimited two-day shipping and video streaming, cost $75 when it launched in 2005. Wedbush's Pachter estimated that content spending will be $6 billion or more this year, up from $5 billion in 2017.

Inc. said revenue soared 43 percent to $51 billion, beating the $49.9 billion analysts expected.

North American net sales increased 46% to $30.7 billion, with operating income of $1.25 billion. "That's why you're seeing this remarkable acceleration in AWS growth, now for two quarters in a row", CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. The Prime program started in the first year in India grew faster than any Prime program we've seen in other countries.

"Virtually every opportunity that Amazon invests in is going to be structurally higher margin than its core ultra-low margin retail business", Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Securities, wrote in a recent note to investors.

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