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Amazon's Slowing Cloud and Other Hidden Measures of Its Health

Amazon's Slowing Cloud and Other Hidden Measures of Its Health
Photograph by Mike Kane/Bloomberg

Amazon puts out two sets of numbers in its quarterly financial reports that consistently generate awe and indignation. The first: a soaring revenue number. The second: a tiny profit or—more often in recent years—a loss.

The past quarter was no different. Amazon showed nice sales growth in Thursday’s earnings report, bringing in $19.34 billion—23 percent more than it did a year ago, and slightly better than analyst’s expectations. It’s also a bit better than Google, which grew 22 percent last quarter, and way better than EBay’s 13 percent revenue growth. Yet Amazon also reported a net loss of $126 million, the company’s biggest loss since 2012. This makes sense when you remember that Jeff Bezos is pouring money into everything from same-day grocery delivery to video-game development to Amazon’s own disastrously reviewed smartphones. The profits from the retail business are erased by investments in the company’s newer dalliances.