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Amazon Q4 Earnings Up 55%

Amazon reported a 55 percent increase in fourth-quarter profits, to $749 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2016.

But its stock still took a hammering from investors due to lower-than-expected sales, after the company previously described the period as its best holiday season ever. (At post time shares of Amazon were down 4.4 percent in after-hours trading.)

Still, net sales increased 22 percent to $43.7 billion, and would have rose 24 percent save for the impact of unfavorable foreign exchange rates.

The gains came amid continued investments in technology, original video content, logistics and marketing.

In North America, net sales rose 22 percent to $26.2 billion, compared to last year’s 24 percent increase. Of that, the e-tailer sold $21.6 billion of electronics and other general merchandise, a 25 percent increase, and $4.2 billion in media, up 7 percent year over year.

In prepared remarks, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos touted his Amazon Prime membership program, perhaps as a rejoinder to a two-day, fee-free shipping program just launched by Walmart.

See:Walmart One-Ups Amazon With Free 2-Day Shipping

Prime, Bezos said, now provides two-day shipping on more than 50 million items, a 73 percent increase over last year; is offering one- and two-hour Prime Now deliveries in 18 more cities than in 2015; introduced new benefits like a lending library of e- and spoken-word books and magazines; and added “tens of millions of new paid members.”