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Amazon touts a dozen key products on earnings call

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos famously hates talking to the investment community. He dislikes it so much that he leaves earnings calls to his deputies.

But analysts still need answers, and lots of them. Far from its roots as an online bookseller and then an internet shopping mall, Amazon is now a vast conglomerate of products, services and technologies for the novice shopper to the most sophisticated software engineer.

It's also one of the most valuable businesses in the world, meaning the stock is a must-own for practically every big portfolio manager.

For Brian Olsavsky, the chief financial officer, and Darin Manney, director of investor relations director, the quarterly chat with analysts is a bruising hour or so of rapid-fire questions. On Thursday, the pair touched on no fewer than 12 products or markets where Amazon is investing, following a quarter in which operating expenses topped $31 billion.

To read about Amazon's third-quarter results and fourth-quarter forecast, click here and here. And if you want a rundown on the dozen key product areas from Thursday's conference call, keep reading.

An employee arrange items for distribution at the Amazon fulfillment center in Spain.
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An employee arrange items for distribution at the Amazon fulfillment center in Spain.

1) Retail — This is core Amazon, the products the company buys wholesale and delivers to you, the consumer, seven days a week in those ubiquitous cardboard boxes.

2) FBA — It stands for Fulfillment by Amazon. An increasing number of third-party sellers on Amazon's marketplace choose this option, which entails sending their products to Amazon's fulfillment centers across the globe. When the product gets ordered, it ships as quickly and efficiently as if Amazon were the merchant.

Amazon is opening 26 new fulfillment centers this year, the first double-digit increase since 2012, Olsavsky said on the call.

3) Digital content — Amazon delivers you videos, e-books and movies to your various devices and is investing to expand its catalogs.

4) Studios — The company isn't just offering you movies and TV shows, but it's actually creating original content. Amazon won six Emmys at this year's Emmy Awards, including two for "Transparent," starring Jeffrey Tambor.

Olsavsky said that Amazon is doubling its spending on video content and the marketing associated with it in the second half of 2016.

Visitors arrive at the cloud pavilion of Amazon Web Services at the 2016 CeBIT digital technology trade fair in Hanover, Germany last March.
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Visitors arrive at the cloud pavilion of Amazon Web Services at the 2016 CeBIT digital technology trade fair in Hanover, Germany last March.

5) AWS — The cloud-computing division, Amazon Web Services, has become the company's primary profit driver, selling computing tools and services to businesses across the globe. Revenue in the quarter jumped 55 percent to $3.2 billion with an operating margin of 27 percent.

6) Prime — Amazon's $99 annual subscription includes two-day shipping on millions of items and access to digital content and cloud storage.

7) Prime Now — Available to Prime customers in 40 cities, this service includes items that can be delivered from local stores and restaurants in two hours (or one hour for an added fee).

8) Fresh — Recently launched in four new markets — Virginia, Dallas, Maryland and Chicago — Amazon's grocery delivery service is aiming to do to food what the main business did to retail. Prime members can add Fresh for $15 a month.

9) Fashion and apparel — Amazon acquired shoe seller Zappos in 2009 and of late has been rolling out its own private label fashion brands. Of course, the site also offers various ways for premium clothing companies to promote and sell products.

10) Echo — Amazon's voice-powered home assistant is consistently one of the top two sellers among all electronics products on the site. It's particularly powerful for Amazon because Echo makes it easier for consumers to buy more stuff — on Amazon.

11) Automotive — That's right, Amazon is in the auto market. But for now, this product is designed to help in the car shopping process, providing tools for research and engaging with the automotive community. Amazon isn't actually selling cars (yet), but it does sell parts and accessories.

12) Book stores — After almost single-handedly killing the physical book store, Amazon is now building its own. The company has three stores open and two more coming, in Boston and Chicago. The stores are curated with a select list of titles because, that's all it needs. Amazon, remember, has a comprehensive catalog on the Kindle.