Amazon.com yesterday reported a 58 percent drop in revenue during the fourth quarter, sending shares of the company into a free fall. As of this morning, the company was trading at 174.76, down 10.12 percent since yesterday’s earnings call.
Net income decreased to $177 million in the fourth quarter, or $0.38 per diluted share, compared with net income of $416 million, or $0.91 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2010.
In a call with press and analysts, Tom Szkutak, the company’s CFO, noted that sales of the company’s Kindle eReaders and Kindle Fire tablet had increased 177 percent during the holiday season. Szkutak declined to be more specific in breaking down those sales by device.
While the Kindle’s $200 price tag struck a chord with consumers, IHS iSuppli reports that Amazon is selling the slates at a loss as part of a strategy to promote the sale of physical and digital goods.
Initial reviews of the Fire were tepid. On Amazon’s own site, over 27 percent of the posted 13,123 reviews were below 3 stars, and over 10 percent of those who rated the Fire gave it only one star.
Perhaps the most troubling part of yesterday’s results is the company doesn’t foresee an improvement in the coming quarter. For the first quarter of 2012, Amazon expects net sales between $12 billion and $13.4 billion, a growth of between 22 percent and 36 percent. Analysts were expecting the higher end of that range. The company expects operating income to fall somewhere between a $200 million loss and $100 million profit.