Amazon Q4 Earnings Call Nuggets: Traditional Kindle vs. Fire Users

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) reported its fourth quarter earnings on Tuesday and discussed the following topics in its conference call. Take a look.

North American Media growth and Share Buybacks

Mark Mahaney – Citi asked: Tom, I am looking for a a little more color on the North American Media growth that you talked about including unit trends and the revenue trends for video games. Is there anything you would want to call out in terms of the other media segments, books, music and video?

A second question. I think for the share buyback it’s the first time in at least two years you’ve done that. Is there any particular reason why you bought back stock in the quarter?

Thomas J. Szkutak – SVP and CFO responded: In terms of the North American media, again across all of our digital media there was very strong growth. Another call that I didn’t mention is the physical books unit growth was double-digit in the fourth quarter year-over-year, which we were very pleased. But if you think about the shift to digital content, there was really rapid growth on the Kindle side. We are pleased to see that.

Then, I mentioned video games were again down from a revenue perspective; third-party (GMS) was up strongly and unit growth in total for videogames was up.

Again, there are some difficult compares as you can match with some of their console piece of that. When I talk video games, that’s both console and video games.

Keep in mind that video games in particular are very seasonally high and usually we see that in the fourth quarter. We did see it in this fourth quarter as well as other ones. The video games sales for the quarter has multiples of what we see in other quarters, again because of the seasonality, so that’s helpful.

In terms of the stock purchase, we’ve had a — there is not a lot to comment there. We have said in the past that we’ll opportunistically buy when we think it’s the right value and that’s what we did.

Traditional Kindle vs. Fire Users 

Heather Bellini – Goldman Sachs asked: Could you comment a little bit about any cannibalization you think you saw in traditional Kindle readers as a result of the Fire launch? How are you feeling about the Prime conversion of the Fire unites versus your expectations?

Thomas J. Szkutak – SVP and CFO: In terms of both devices–meaning the readers and Fire–both did very well; we’re very pleased with the growth we’re seeing there. Both are included in the growth rate that we had in our release which is again during the holiday season.

It was up 177 percent year-over-year and again we’ve been growing our Kindle reader business very fast over the past several years since its introduction. It’s on top of a good base and so we’re pleased with the growth rate.

Customers like both the reader and the Fire. It’s early to tell on Prime conversion, but again with the early stats that we’re seeing, we like them a lot. We’ll continue to see how that looks going forward, but we like what we’re seeing.