Amazon lifts veil on cloud biz, says it's worth $5B

Amazon.com broke out sales figures for its Web services sector for the first time on Thursday, calling the sector a $5 billion business.

Amazon Web Services, which includes the company's cloud business, generated revenue of $1.57 billion in first quarter, up from $1.05 billion last year, the Internet retailer announced in its first-quarter earnings report.

"Amazon Web Services is a $5 billion business and still growing fast—in fact it's accelerating," CEO Jeff Bezos said. "Born a decade ago, AWS is a good example of how we approach ideas and risk-taking at Amazon. We strive to focus relentlessly on the customer, innovate rapidly, and drive operational excellence."

Analysts had long anticipated the release of the company's AWS financials, saying they would offer insight into the company's core domestic operations. Shares rallied nearly 6 percent in after-hours trading.

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That business, along with increased sales activity in North America, its largest market, helped Amazon beat revenue expectations.

The e-commerce giant's quarterly loss was in line with Street estimates, but its guidance came in light. Amazon handed in a first-quarter loss of 12 cents a share, compared to a profit of 23 cents a share a year ago.

The company reported first-quarter revenue of $22.72 billion, up 15 percent from a year ago. North American sales increased 24 percent, year-over-year, to $13.41 billion.

The company also provided second-quarter revenue guidance, saying it will likely come in between $20.6 billion and $22.8 billion. That's at the light end of Wall Street forecasts, which call for sales of $22.12 billion, according to StreetAccount.

On Wednesday, JMP Securities said it sees a number of potential catalysts for Amazon, including the release of its AWS financials, the lapping of the the Japan consumption tax and AWS price cuts. JMP also maintained its market perform rating on company.

Analysts had expected the company to report a quarterly loss of 12 cents a share on $22.39 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

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Initially lower, shares rose more than 4 percent in extended trading.

An Amazon.com worker picks orders at an Amazon fulfillment center in Tracy, California.
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An Amazon.com worker picks orders at an Amazon fulfillment center in Tracy, California.

Amazon shares hit a 52-week high of $394.60 Tuesday after the company expanded its travel service, Amazon Destinations. The business lets users book hotels in the three metro cities—New York City, Los Angeles and Seattle—and their surrounding regions.

The move is a part of Amazon's plan to further expand its product offerings and services.

Earlier this week, Audi said that it would test a new service allowing drivers to have Amazon packages delivered to their car trunk, according to an NBC News report.

Amazon's full-year earnings and sales growth have declined for three years straight. The Internet retailer reported sales growth of 19.52 percent for 2014, its smallest annual revenue increase since 2001.