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Amazon’s latest earnings cap off a sterling 2020, despite the pandemic

Amazon’s latest earnings cap off a sterling 2020, despite the pandemic


And it marks one of Jeff Bezos’ final quarters as CEO

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Illustration of Amazon’s wordmark in an orange and black bull’s-eye.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon founder and soon-to-be-former CEO Jeff Bezos is stepping down from his role, making way for Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy to take his place, and the company couldn’t be in better shape financially for the big transition.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon has kept growing bigger during times that have strained many other businesses. In its Q4 2020 earnings release this afternoon, the company reported net income more than doubling to $7.2 billion for the quarter, compared to $3.3 billion for the same period in 2019. Amazon’s full-year 2020 net sales were up 38 percent, to $386.1 billion.

There’s a little more to unpack in these Q4 earnings than one might usually see. For 2020, Amazon shifted its Prime Day shopping event from the middle of summer to mid-October, which likely gave its numbers a big boost. And in doing so, it basically kicked off the holiday shopping season earlier than ever, with more people at home shopping exclusively online to avoid in-person gifting.

Amazon’s latest earnings release doesn’t feature a lengthy statement from Bezos, who more recently had reserved this spot for announcing the company would commit huge amounts of money toward COVID-19 research and prevention. Instead, Bezos used it as a place to rattle off Amazon’s biggest inventions that have grown in popularity under his control, capping off his era as the CEO of the largest, most profitable company on the planet. He’ll remain CEO until Q3 2021, when Andy Jassy will take over.