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Amazon quarterly profits more than double to $3.6bn

Amazon more than doubled profits in the first quarter thanks to soaring demand for cloud computing and ad services – but forecast a more muted performance for the current period.

The online retail giant reported a net income of $ 3.6bn, up from $ 1.6bn in the same period last year, as revenues rose 17% to $ 59.7bn.

But its outlook for profits and sales in the second quarter fell short of analysts’ expectations. Shares climbed about 1% in after-hours trading on Wall Street.

Amazon’s online retail sales of $ 29.5bn were up by 10% on the same period last year but it saw greater growth in revenues from third-party merchants paying to sell and advertise through its platform.

Revenue from seller services rose 20% to $ 11.1bn while ad and other sales rose by 34% to $ 2.7bn.

Amazon’s cloud computing unit also kept its strong pace of growth, with sales rising 41% to $ 7.7bn.

While growing revenues, the company has continued to plough money into new investments – a strategy that has at times held back profit margins in the short term.

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In 2017 it bought Whole Foods Market for $ 13.7bn to gain a foothold in bricks and mortar grocery retailing.

Amazon has also been building warehouses around the world to maintain its edge in delivering the fastest, as well as spending more on video content from live sports to a planned prequel series to The Lord of the Rings.

Recently it announced investments in self-driving and electric car companies.

Chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said the company expected to spend more money in the second quarter as it rolls out benefits to members of its loyalty club Prime.

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “These results mark a step change at Amazon.

“While revenue growth is slowing, profits are changing gear.”

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