Amazon Shares on Record Path, Challenging Apple as World's Biggest Company
What a quarter.

Amazon Inc. (AMZN) shares hit an all-time high Friday after the online retailer obliterated Wall Street forecasts with a first quarter earnings report that saw profits double and sales top $50 billion.

Amazon said earnings for the three months ending in March came in at $3.27 per share, well ahead of the Wall Street consensus of  $1.24 consensus and more than double the $1.48 bottom line reported in the same period last year. Group sales surged 43% to $51.04 billion, Amazon said, while sales at its web service division, AWS, rose 49% to $5.44 billion. 

"AWS had the unusual advantage of a seven-year head start before facing like-minded competition, and the team has never slowed down," said CEO Jeff Bezos. "As a result, the AWS services are by far the most evolved and most functionality-rich. AWS lets developers do more and be nimbler, and it continues to get even better every day."

"That's why you're seeing this remarkable acceleration in AWS growth, now for two quarters in a row. A huge thank you to all our AWS customers, and you can be sure we'll keep working hard for you," he added.

Amazon shares spiked 7.65% in early Friday, to change hands at a record $1,632.35. each, a move that extends the stock's year-to-date gain past 40%.

I am so glad you bought $AMZN. I tried so hard to get everyone in this one... https://t.co/2Cj9QmVLog https://t.co/FENTr1ShgH

— Jim Cramer (@jimcramer) April 27, 2018

The gains would also value the Seattle, Wash.-based group at around $757 billion, making it the world's second-largest company by market capitalisation, just behind Apple Inc. (AAPL) at $830 billion. 

Amazon also said it would boost the cost of its Prime membership for U.S. customers by 20%, a move that will boost the group's already robust $3.1 billion in quarter subscription revenues.

Bezos recently announced in Amazon's annual shareholder letter that Prime membership had surpassed 100 million paid members globally, the first time Amazon had released subscriber numbers for Prime.

"The value of Prime to customers has never been greater. And the cost is also high, as we pointed out especially with shipping options and digital benefits, we continue to see rises in costs," CFO Brian Olsavsky told analysts on a conference call. "So effective May 11, we're going to increase the price of our U.S. annual plan from $99 to $119 for new members. The new price will apply to renewals starting on June 16."

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