After a command performance in the first quarter, investors gave Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Report an ovation on Wall Street. The stock gained $57.34, or 9.5%, to $659.34 in early afternoon trading on Friday.
Sales grew 28% to $29.1 billion in the first quarter, compared to a forecast of $27.99 billion. Earnings per share were $1.07, greatly exceeding Wall Street's expectations of 58 cents per share.
"How many $100b+ [annual revenue] companies are accelerating revenues?" Macquarie Capital analyst Ben Schachter asked in a Friday report on the first-quarter results. The Amazon Web Services cloud business and Prime membership program bolstered results. "AWS and Prime continue to exceeded expectations and that is driving the stock higher," he wrote. "We see little reason that those trends won't continue."
The Amazon Web Services cloud computing business, which competes with Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report and Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Report Google, is on pace to exceed $10 billion in sales a year. For the first quarter, the business posted $2.56 billion in revenues, a gain of 64% from the first quarter a year ago. Operating income for AWS more than tripled to $604 million.
With the continued growth and increased disclosure about the AWS business, Schachter suggested that Amazon could spin off the cloud business.
Jim Cramer, TheStreet's founder and manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, lauded the success of AWS, Amazon's original programs such as TheMan in the High Castle and products including the Fire TV Stick streaming device.
"I think there is a lot still in Amazon," said Cramer. "As the market gets pulled down, that's a place to go even though [Amazon is] up a lot."
Amazon has also taken steps to boost subscriptions to its Prime and video streaming service. The company is offering monthly Prime memberships for customers who don't want to commit to a full year. The company will also sell its video streaming service independently of Prime membership, taking on Netflix (NFLX) - Get Report .
The cloud, Prime and video businesses require investment, and Amazon cautioned on its earnings call that AWS margins could be bumpy because of capital requirements, price reductions and other factors.
Jeff Bezos has been aggressive in building out the company's slate of content. Amazon bought rights to Woody Allen's Caf¿ Society and Love & Friendship from Whit Stillman, who wrote and directed Academy Award-nominee Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco. Bezos also went shopping at the Sundance Film Festival in January, picking up titles such as Manchester by the Sea, Gleason, Author: The JT Leroy Story, and Wiener-Dog.
Despite the spending, Amazon exceeded Wall Street's earnings expectations. BMO Capital Markets analyst Daniel Salmon suggested in a Friday note that Bezos and Amazon management can continue the balancing act. "[First-quarter] results reinforce our view that Amazon has the scale to keep investing in both Prime and AWS while delivering margin expansion," he wrote.