Cloud

Amazon can't use stall tactics to hide its cloud revenues for much longer

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For years, market-leading public cloud Amazon Web Services (AWS) has hidden in the shadows of Amazon.com’s quarterly earnings statements. But that could change.

Amazon might have to open up about the profitability of its cloud division to comply with federal accounting standards in the near future, as the revenue and assets of its AWS division grow larger.

“[I]t is inevitable they will eventually break it out,” Robert W. Baird analyst Colin Sebastian wrote in an email to VentureBeat. “If AWS maintains the current growth trajectory, we won’t be waiting too long.”

Companies must break out operating segments when revenue, profits, or assets exceed 10 percent of their entire companies, and it’s reasonable to think AWS will surpass one or more of those thresholds in the near future.

A report last week from analysts at Pacific Crest Securities projected that AWS revenue would hit “nearly $5 billion” this year, up from $3.1 billion last year. And AWS “remains on hypergrowth trajectory … and remains on pace to essentially double revenue every two years,” the analysts noted. With such growth, AWS revenue could put it over the 10 percent mark and compel Amazon to disclose AWS financials.

“We think that AWS is generating ~$5B+ in revenue, and growing at a very fast clip,” analyst Neil Doshi of CRT Capital Group told VentureBeat in an email, agreeing with the Pacific Crest estimate.

Amazon’s overall net revenue was $74.4 billion for 2013.

Some Amazon investors are hungry for more information on Amazon’s cloud revenues and costs, at least according to an article yesterday from the Information (subscription required). But that’s not such a new thing: Cloud industry observers have long gone back and forth about whether such a shift would come to pass. They’ve also discussed the possibility of AWS spinning out of the parent company, as Amazon continues to grow and outpace all other cloud infrastructure providers.

But just as the cloud plays an important role for Microsoft and Google, it probably makes sense for the Amazon cloud to remain part of its parent company. And if that’s the case, Amazon might eventually have to change its reporting procedures for its cloud division.

“Amazon does have a tendency to hold its cards very close to its chest, and as a result, no one in the investment community really knows how many Prime subscribers are there, or how many Kindle devices are sold, or how much revenue and costs are associated with AWS,” Doshi said.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

More information:

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