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Amazon’s growth continues to slow after surging in pandemic

Amazon’s growth continues to slow after surging in pandemic


It’s still making billions more, though

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon made a boatload of money during the first quarter of 2022. But investors, having grown used to Amazon’s rocket-like trajectory during the pandemic, haven’t quite adapted to the fact that it’s no longer accelerating quite so fast.

Despite notching $116.4 billion in sales from January through March of this year — up nearly 8 billion year over year — Amazon’s stock took a dive in after-hours trading, falling by about 10 percent before stabilizing a bit higher.

The problem wasn’t that Amazon had underperformed in Q1, but that Amazon projected a slower Q2 than analysts had hoped for. Analysts wanted to see Amazon projecting $125.5 billion in sales, according to CNBC, but instead, the company only expects sales to come in from $116 billion to $121 billion.

“We realized the equivalent of three years’ forecasted growth in about 15 months.”

This is not a huge problem in the scheme of things, but it does illustrate the communications trouble that Amazon is facing right now. The company saw such rapid growth during the early stages of the pandemic that its merely good growth right now is seen by investors as a sign of slowing progress.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy tried to set expectations in his first letter to shareholders earlier this month, saying, “We realized the equivalent of three years’ forecasted growth in about 15 months.”

Analysts aren’t wrong that things are slowing down dramatically over at Amazon, though. The company reported 44 percent year-over-year growth in net sales for Q1 2021 and just 7 percent growth for Q1 2022. That’s obviously a lot lower — Compound Capital Advisors says this quarter marks Amazon’s slowest Q1 growth ever. Amazon also reported its first quarterly loss since 2015, largely due to a $7.6 billion loss on its investment in the electric vehicle maker Rivian, which has seen its stock fall by more than half this year.

Amazon is now focused on “improving productivity and cost efficiencies throughout our fulfillment network,” Jassy says. But he warns “this may take some time.”

The company also announced today that it would hold Prime Day in July this year after holding it in June last year. That’ll push the earnings bump from Amazon’s invented holiday into the third quarter of 2022.

Amazon isn’t alone in facing shareholder troubles this year. As Bloomberg’s Steve Matthews points out, all the FAANG companies are seeing dips: