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Amazon.com 10-Q 2011

Documents found in this filing:

  1. 10-Q
  2. Ex-31.1
  3. Ex-31.2
  4. Ex-32.1
  5. Ex-32.2
  6. Ex-32.2
QUARTERLY REPORT ON FORM 10-Q
Table of Contents

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

Form 10-Q

 

 

(Mark One)

x QUARTERLY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the quarterly period ended September 30, 2011

or

 

¨ TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from              to             .

Commission File No. 000-22513

 

 

Amazon.com, Inc.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)

 

 

 

Delaware   91-1646860

(State or Other Jurisdiction of

Incorporation or Organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

410 Terry Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109-5210

(206) 266-1000

(Address and Telephone Number, Including Area Code, of Registrant’s Principal Executive Offices)

 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  x    No  ¨

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).    Yes  x    No  ¨

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer   x    Accelerated filer   ¨
Non-accelerated filer   ¨  (Do not check if a smaller reporting company)    Smaller reporting company   ¨

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes  ¨    No  x

454,754,345 shares of common stock, par value $0.01 per share, outstanding as of October 14, 2011

 

 

 


Table of Contents

AMAZON.COM, INC.

FORM 10-Q

For the Quarterly Period Ended September 30, 2011

INDEX

 

          Page  
PART I. FINANCIAL INFORMATION   

Item 1

   Financial Statements      3   
  

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows

     3   
  

Consolidated Statements of Operations

     4   
  

Consolidated Balance Sheets

     5   
  

Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

     6   

Item 2

   Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations      16   

Item 3

   Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk      27   

Item 4

   Controls and Procedures      28   
PART II. OTHER INFORMATION   

Item 1

   Legal Proceedings      29   

Item 1A

   Risk Factors      29   

Item 2

   Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities and Use of Proceeds      36   

Item 3

   Defaults Upon Senior Securities      36   

Item 4

   Reserved      36   

Item 5

   Other Information      36   

Item 6

   Exhibits      36   

Signatures

     37   

 

2


Table of Contents

PART I. FINANCIAL INFORMATION

 

Item 1. Financial Statements

AMAZON.COM, INC.

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS

(in millions)

(unaudited)

 

     Three Months Ended
September 30,
    Nine Months Ended
September 30,
    Twelve Months Ended
September 30,
 
     2011     2010     2011     2010     2011     2010  

CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS, BEGINNING OF PERIOD

   $ 2,047      $ 1,629      $ 3,777      $ 3,444      $ 1,539      $ 2,514   

OPERATING ACTIVITIES:

            

Net income

     63        231        454        736        871        1,120   

Adjustments to reconcile net income to net cash from operating activities:

            

Depreciation of fixed assets, including internal-use software and website development, and other amortization

     278        150        724        399        894        510   

Stock-based compensation

     144        107        397        304        518        404   

Other operating expense (income), net

     37        26        112        77        140        98   

Losses (gains) on sales of marketable securities, net

     (6     (2     (4     (2     (4     (2

Other expense (income), net

     (38     (35     (39     (62     (56     (56

Deferred income taxes

     34        (16     68        (44     116        (44

Excess tax benefits from stock-based compensation

     —          (75     (61     (236     (84     (288

Changes in operating assets and liabilities:

            

Inventories

     (587     (505     (517     (326     (1,211     (666

Accounts receivable, net and other

     (75     (64     211        348        (320     (161

Accounts payable

     848        894        (1,687     (1,078     1,755        1,152   

Accrued expenses and other

     109        192        (9     31        587        460   

Additions to unearned revenue

     239        152        706        502        892        946   

Amortization of previously unearned revenue

     (249     (200     (721     (642     (984     (856
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities

     797        855        (366     7        3,114        2,617   

INVESTING ACTIVITIES:

            

Purchases of fixed assets, including internal-use software and website development

     (529     (315     (1,261     (651     (1,589     (788

Acquisitions, net of cash acquired, and other

     (48     (42     (656     (82     (927     (81

Sales and maturities of marketable securities and other investments

     1,964        1,059        5,931        3,139        7,043        3,827   

Purchases of marketable securities and other investments

     (1,287     (1,830     (4,475     (4,551     (6,203     (6,711
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net cash provided by (used in) investing activities

     100        (1,128     (461     (2,145     (1,676     (3,753

FINANCING ACTIVITIES:

            

Excess tax benefits from stock-based compensation

     —          75        61        236        84        288   

Proceeds from long-term debt and other

     9        67        131        110        173        125   

Repayments of long-term debt, capital lease, and finance lease obligations

     (91     (49     (341     (122     (440     (241
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net cash provided by (used in) financing activities

     (82     93        (149     224        (183     172   

Foreign-currency effect on cash and cash equivalents

     (39     90        22        9        29        (11
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents

     776        (90     (954     (1,905     1,284        (975
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS, END OF PERIOD

   $ 2,823      $ 1,539      $ 2,823      $ 1,539      $ 2,823      $ 1,539   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

SUPPLEMENTAL CASH FLOW INFORMATION:

            

Cash paid for interest on long term debt

   $ 4      $ 3      $ 10      $ 8      $ 13      $ 10   

Cash paid for income taxes (net of refunds)

     12        16        18        62        31        66   

Fixed assets acquired under capital leases

     155        141        566        283        688        333   

Fixed assets acquired under build-to-suit leases

     54        39        220        159        234        214   

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements

 

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Table of Contents

AMAZON.COM, INC.

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS

(in millions, except per share data)

(unaudited)

 

     Three Months Ended
September 30,
    Nine Months Ended
September 30,
 
     2011     2010     2011     2010  

Net sales

   $ 10,876      $ 7,560      $ 30,646      $ 21,257   

Operating expenses (1):

        

Cost of sales

     8,325        5,786        23,457        16,244   

Fulfillment

     1,121        680        2,917        1,808   

Marketing

     370        241        1,037        653   

Technology and content

     769        442        2,047        1,216   

General and administrative

     175        117        474        327   

Other operating expense (income), net

     37        26        112        77   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

     10,797        7,292        30,044        20,325   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income from operations

     79        268        602        932   

Interest income

     16        13        47        36   

Interest expense

     (17     (11     (45     (28

Other income (expense), net

     52        22        57        50   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total non-operating income (expense)

     51        24        59        58   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income before income taxes

     130        292        661        990   

Provision for income taxes

     (67     (79     (205     (267

Equity-method investment activity, net of tax

     —          18        (2     13   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net income

   $ 63      $ 231      $ 454      $ 736   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Basic earnings per share

   $ 0.14      $ 0.51      $ 1.00      $ 1.65   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Diluted earnings per share

   $ 0.14      $ 0.51      $ 0.99      $ 1.62   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Weighted average shares used in computation of earnings per share:

        

Basic

     454        448        453        447   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Diluted

     461        456        460        455   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1)    Includes stock-based compensation as follows:

 

        

Fulfillment

   $ 35      $ 23      $ 91      $ 65   

Marketing

     10        7        27        19   

Technology and content

     75        56        211        159   

General and administrative

     24        21        68        61   

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements

 

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Table of Contents

AMAZON.COM, INC.

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

(in millions, except per share data)

 

     September 30,
2011
    December 31,
2010
 
     (unaudited)        
ASSETS     

Current assets:

    

Cash and cash equivalents

   $ 2,823      $ 3,777   

Marketable securities

     3,503        4,985   

Inventories

     3,770        3,202   

Accounts receivable, net and other

     1,496        1,587   

Deferred tax assets

     312        196   
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total current assets

     11,904        13,747   

Fixed assets, net

     3,999        2,414   

Deferred tax assets

     27        22   

Goodwill

     1,934        1,349   

Other assets

     1,190        1,265   
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total assets

   $ 19,054      $ 18,797   
  

 

 

   

 

 

 
LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY     

Current liabilities:

    

Accounts payable

   $ 6,552      $ 8,051   

Accrued expenses and other

     2,426        2,321   
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total current liabilities

     8,978        10,372   

Long-term liabilities

     2,310        1,561   

Commitments and contingencies

    

Stockholders’ equity:

    

Preferred stock, $0.01 par value:

    

Authorized shares — 500

    

Issued and outstanding shares — none

     0        0   

Common stock, $0.01 par value:

    

Authorized shares — 5,000

    

Issued shares — 471 and 468

    

Outstanding shares — 455 and 451

     5        5   

Treasury stock, at cost

     (600     (600

Additional paid-in capital

     6,824        6,325   

Accumulated other comprehensive loss

     (241     (190

Retained earnings

     1,778        1,324   
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total stockholders’ equity

     7,766        6,864   
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity

   $ 19,054      $ 18,797   
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

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Table of Contents

AMAZON.COM, INC.

NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

(unaudited)

Note 1 — Accounting Policies

Unaudited Interim Financial Information

We have prepared the accompanying consolidated financial statements pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) for interim financial reporting. These consolidated financial statements are unaudited and, in our opinion, include all adjustments, consisting of normal recurring adjustments and accruals necessary for a fair presentation of our consolidated balance sheets, operating results, and cash flows for the periods presented. Operating results for the periods presented are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected for 2011 due to seasonal and other factors. Certain information and footnote disclosures normally included in financial statements prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”) have been omitted in accordance with the rules and regulations of the SEC. These consolidated financial statements should be read in conjunction with the audited consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes in Item 8 of Part II, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” of our 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Principles of Consolidation

The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Amazon.com, Inc., its wholly-owned subsidiaries, and those entities in which we have a variable interest and are the primary beneficiary (collectively, the “Company”). Intercompany balances and transactions have been eliminated.

Use of Estimates

The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, revenues and expenses, and related disclosures of contingent liabilities in the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes. Estimates are used for, but not limited to, determining the selling price of products and services in multiple element revenue arrangements and determining the lives of these elements, incentive discount offers, sales returns, vendor funding, stock-based compensation, income taxes, valuation of investments and inventory, collectability of receivables, valuation of acquired intangibles and goodwill, depreciable lives of fixed assets and internally-developed software and contingencies. Actual results could differ materially from those estimates.

Equity method investments

Equity investments, including our 32% investment in LivingSocial, are accounted for using the equity method of accounting if the investment gives us the ability to exercise significant influence, but not control, over an investee. The total of our investments in equity-method investees, including identifiable intangible assets, deferred tax liabilities and goodwill, is classified on our consolidated balance sheets as “Other assets.” Our share of the earnings or losses as reported by equity method investees, amortization of the related intangible assets, and related gains or losses, if any, are classified as “Equity-method investment activity, net of tax” on our consolidated statements of operations. Our share of the net income or loss of our equity method investees includes operating and non-operating gains and charges, which can have a significant impact on our reported equity-method investment activity and the carrying value of those investments. We regularly evaluate these investments, which are not carried at fair value, for other-than-temporary impairment.

We record purchases, including incremental purchases, of shares in equity-method investees at cost. Reductions in our ownership percentage of an investee, including through dilution, are generally valued at fair value, with the difference between fair value and our recorded cost reflected as a gain or loss in our equity-method investment activity. In the event we no longer have the ability to exercise significant influence over an equity-method investee, we would discontinue accounting for the investment under the equity method.

During Q3 2011, LivingSocial informed us of corrections to its previously provided Q1 and Q2 2011 interim financial statements identified during the audit of its 2010 financial statements, related to accounting for derivatives, stock-based compensation, and other items. These out-of-period adjustments have increased our recorded losses from this investment. Our share of the estimated adjustments is included in our Q3 2011 equity-method investment activity. LivingSocial’s 2011 interim financial results have not been reviewed or audited by its independent auditors. As of September 30, 2011, the book value of our LivingSocial investment was $192 million.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

In 2010, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued an Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) to address diversity in practice in interpreting the pro forma revenue and earnings disclosure requirements for business combinations. The ASU specifies that if a public entity presents comparative financial statements, the entity should disclose revenue and earnings of the combined entity as though the current year business combination(s) had occurred as of the beginning of the comparable prior annual reporting period. We prospectively adopted this ASU effective Q1 2011, with no material impact on our consolidated financial statements.

 

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Table of Contents

In 2011, the FASB issued an ASU which amends guidance for the presentation of comprehensive income. The amended guidance requires an entity to present components of net income and other comprehensive income in one continuous statement, referred to as the statement of comprehensive income, or in two separate, but consecutive statements. The current option to report other comprehensive income and its components in the statement of stockholders’ equity will be eliminated. Although the new guidance changes the presentation of comprehensive income, there are no changes to the components that are recognized in net income or other comprehensive income under existing guidance. The ASU is effective for us in Q1 2012 and retrospective application will be required. The ASU will change our financial statement presentation of comprehensive income but will not impact our net income, financial position, or cash flows.

In 2011, the FASB issued an ASU which intended to reduce complexity and costs by allowing an entity the option to make a qualitative evaluation about the likelihood of goodwill impairment to determine whether it should calculate the fair value of a reporting unit. The ASU also expands upon the examples of events and circumstances that an entity should consider between annual impairment tests in determining whether it is more likely than not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount. The ASU is effective for us in Q1 2012, with early adoption permitted. We do not expect adoption to have an impact on our consolidated financial statements.

Note 2 — Cash, Cash Equivalents, and Marketable Securities

As of September 30, 2011, and December 31, 2010, our cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities primarily consisted of cash, U.S. and foreign government and agency securities, AAA-rated money market funds, and other investment grade securities. Our marketable fixed-income securities have effective maturities of less than 5 years. Cash equivalents and marketable securities are recorded at fair value. Fair value is defined as the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date. To increase the comparability of fair value measures, the following hierarchy prioritizes the inputs to valuation methodologies used to measure fair value:

Level 1—Valuations based on quoted prices for identical assets and liabilities in active markets.

Level 2—Valuations based on observable inputs other than quoted prices included in Level 1, such as quoted prices for similar assets and liabilities in active markets, quoted prices for identical or similar assets and liabilities in markets that are not active, or other inputs that are observable or can be corroborated by observable market data.

Level 3—Valuations based on unobservable inputs reflecting our own assumptions, consistent with reasonably available assumptions made by other market participants. These valuations require significant judgment.

We measure the fair value of money market funds and equity securities based on quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities. All other financial instruments were valued either based on recent trades of securities in inactive markets or based on quoted market prices of similar instruments and other significant inputs derived from or corroborated by observable market data. We did not hold any cash, cash equivalents, or marketable securities categorized as Level 3 as of September 30, 2011, or December 31, 2010.

 

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The following table summarizes, by major security type, our cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities that are measured at fair value on a recurring basis and are categorized using the fair value hierarchy (in millions):

 

     September 30, 2011     December 31,
2010
 
     Cost or
Amortized
Cost
     Gross
Unrealized
Gains
     Gross
Unrealized
Losses
    Total
Estimated
Fair Value
    Total
Estimated
Fair Value
 

Cash

   $ 855       $ 0       $ 0      $ 855      $ 613   

Level 1 securities:

            

Money market funds

     1,873         0         0        1,873        1,882   

Equity securities

     2         0         (1     1        1   

Level 2 securities:

            

Foreign government and agency securities

     1,239         12         0        1,251        2,158   

U.S. government and agency securities

     1,824         3         (2     1,825        3,756   

Corporate debt securities

     589         3         (3     589        459   

Asset-backed securities

     56         0         0        56        33   

Other fixed income securities

     24         0         0        24        17   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
   $ 6,462       $ 18       $ (6   $ 6,474      $ 8,919   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

     

Less: Long-term restricted cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities (1)

             (148     (157
          

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities

           $ 6,326      $ 8,762   
          

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1) We are required to pledge or otherwise restrict a portion of our cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities as collateral for standby letters of credit, guarantees, debt and real estate lease agreements. We classify cash and marketable securities with use restrictions of twelve months or longer as non-current “Other assets” on our consolidated balance sheets. See “Note 3 — Commitments and Contingencies.”

Note 3 — Commitments and Contingencies

Commitments

We have entered into non-cancellable operating, capital and financing leases for equipment and office, fulfillment center, and data center facilities. Rental expense under operating lease agreements was $96 million and $55 million for Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $255 million and $155 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010.

We capitalize construction in progress and record a corresponding long-term liability for lease agreements where we are considered the owner during the construction period for accounting purposes, including portions of our Seattle, Washington, corporate office space that we do not currently occupy. The building which we have not yet occupied is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

For buildings that are under build-to-suit lease arrangements where we have taken occupancy, which do not qualify for sales recognition under the sale-leaseback accounting guidance, we determined that we continue to be the deemed owner of these buildings. This is principally due to our significant investment in tenant improvements. As a result, the buildings, in the amount of $456 million, are being depreciated over the shorter of their useful lives or the lives of the related leases. The long-term construction obligation is now considered a long-term financing obligation with amounts payable during the next 12 months recorded as “Accrued expenses and other.”

 

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Table of Contents

The following summarizes our principal contractual commitments, excluding open orders for inventory purchases that support normal operations, as of September 30, 2011:

 

     Three  Months
Ended
December  31,
2011
     Year Ended December 31,                
             
        2012      2013      2014      2015      Thereafter      Total  
     (in millions)                                            

Operating and capital commitments:

                    

Debt principal and interest

   $ 24       $ 105       $ 236       $ —         $ —         $ —         $ 365   

Capital leases, including interest

     94         346         264         107         45         18         874   

Financing lease obligations, including interest (1)

     9         37         38         41         42         491         658   

Operating leases

     87         360         386         357         308         1,275         2,773   

Other commitments (2) (3)

     52         279         230         142         147         819         1,669   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total commitments

   $ 266       $ 1,127       $ 1,154       $ 647       $ 542       $ 2,603       $ 6,339   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1) Relates to the 1,370,000 square feet of occupied corporate office space under build-to-suit lease arrangements.
(2) Includes the estimated timing and amounts of payments for rent, operating expenses, and tenant improvements associated with approximately 330,000 square feet of corporate office space currently being developed under build-to-suit leases and which we anticipate occupying in 2013. The amount of space available and our financial and other obligations under the lease agreements are affected by various factors, including government approvals and permits, interest rates, development costs, and other expenses and our exercise of certain rights under the lease agreements.
(3) Excludes $228 million of tax contingencies for which we cannot make a reasonably reliable estimate of the amount and period of payment, if any.

Pledged Securities

As of September 30, 2011, and December 31, 2010, we have pledged or otherwise restricted $152 million and $160 million of our cash and marketable securities as collateral for standby and trade letters of credit, guarantees, debt related to our international operations, as well as real estate leases. We classify cash and marketable securities with use restrictions of twelve months or longer as non-current “Other assets” on our consolidated balance sheets.

Legal Proceedings

The Company is involved from time to time in claims, proceedings and litigation, including the matters described in Item 8 of Part II, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data — Note 6 — Commitments and Contingencies — Legal Proceedings” and “— Other Contingencies” of our 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K and in Item 1, “Financial Statements – Note 3 – Commitments and Contingencies – Legal Proceedings” and “— Other Contingencies” of our Quarterly Reports on Forms 10-Q for the Periods Ended March 31, 2011 and June 30, 2011, as supplemented by the following:

In August 2006, Cordance Corporation filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The complaint alleges that our website technology, including our 1-Click ordering system, infringes a patent obtained by Cordance purporting to cover an “Object-Based Online Transaction Infrastructure” (U.S. Patent No. 6,757,710) and seeks injunctive relief, monetary damages in an amount no less than a reasonable royalty, treble damages for alleged willful infringement, prejudgment interest, costs, and attorneys’ fees. In response, we asserted a declaratory judgment counterclaim in the same action alleging that a service that Cordance has advertised its intent to launch infringes a patent owned by us entitled “Networked Personal Contact Manager” (U.S. Patent No. 6,269,369). In August 2009, a jury trial was held and the jury found that all asserted claims of the ‘710 patent were not infringed by Amazon or were invalid. At trial, Cordance’s damages expert opined that, if we are found to infringe the ‘710 patent and the patent is found to be valid (both of which we dispute), Amazon should pay damages of $32 million, and Cordance has claimed damages in excess of that amount in post-trial mediation. Our damages expert testified that, under the same circumstances, the maximum damages fairly recoverable against Amazon would be less than $1 million. In February 2010, the Court partially reversed the jury’s findings, ruling that some of the asserted claims of the ‘710 Patent were valid and were infringed by Amazon. In September 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reinstated the jury’s verdict in our favor.

In November 2007, an Austrian copyright collection society, Austro-Mechana, filed lawsuits against several Amazon.com EU subsidiaries in the Commercial Court of Vienna, Austria and in the District Court of Munich, Germany seeking to collect a tariff on blank digital media sold by our EU-based retail websites to customers located in Austria. In July 2008, the German court stayed the German case pending a final decision in the Austrian case. In July 2010, the Austrian court ruled in favor of Austro-Mechana and ordered us to report all sales of products to which the tariff potentially applies for a determination of damages. We contested Austro-Mechana’s claim and in September 2010 commenced an appeal in the Commercial Court of Vienna. We lost this appeal and in March 2011 commenced an appeal in the Supreme Court of Austria. In October 2011, the Austrian Supreme Court referred the case to the European Court of Justice.

 

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In September 2009, Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges that our website technology and digital content distribution systems infringe six of Alcatel-Lucent’s patents and seeks injunctive relief, monetary damages, a continuing royalty sufficient to compensate Alcatel-Lucent for any future infringement, treble damages, costs and attorneys’ fees. In January 2010, we filed counterclaims against Alcatel-Lucent alleging infringement of a patent owned by Amazon and that the patents asserted by Alcatel-Lucent are invalid and unenforceable. In October 2011, we entered into a settlement of the litigation that included, among other things, a payment to Alcatel-Lucent and a long-term patent cross-license agreement. The settlement was not material to either the current or future years.

In October 2009, Eolas Technologies Incorporated filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that our website technology infringes two patents owned by Eolas purporting to cover “Distributed Hypermedia Method for Automatically Invoking External Application Providing Interaction and Display of Embedded Objects within a Hypermedia Document” (U.S. Patent No. 5,838,906) and “Distributed Hypermedia Method and System for Automatically Invoking External Application Providing Interaction and Display of Embedded Objects within a Hypermedia Document” (U.S. Patent No. 7,599,985) and seeks injunctive relief, monetary damages, costs and attorneys fees. In July 2011, Eolas’s damages expert opined that, if we are found to infringe the patents-in-suit and the patents are found to be valid (both of which we dispute), Amazon and its affiliates should pay damages of approximately $135 million. While our damages expert has not yet issued its report, we anticipate that the expert will opine that, under the same circumstances, the maximum damages fairly recoverable against Amazon and its affiliates would be substantially lower. Eolas’s damages could be trebled if Eolas prevails in its claim that any infringement was willful. We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.

In May 2010, Stragent, LLC and Seesaw Foundation filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that certain of our Amazon Web Services (“AWS”) technologies infringe a patent licensed by the plaintiffs purporting to cover a “Method of Providing Data Dictionary-Driven Web-Based Database Applications” (U.S. Patent No. 6,832,226) and seeks monetary damages, a future royalty, costs and attorneys fees. In September 2011, we settled this litigation for an immaterial amount, on terms that include a nonexclusive license to the patents in suit.

In July 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) staff informed us that it was considering whether to recommend enforcement proceedings against us for advertising and selling certain textile fiber products as “bamboo” when they are made of rayon manufactured from bamboo, in violation of the Textile Fiber Product Identification Act, the FTC Act, and the regulations promulgated thereunder. We do not believe we have violated these laws and regulations and are cooperating voluntarily with the Commission’s inquiry. In September 2011, we learned that the Commission voted to refer the matter to the Department of Justice for enforcement proceedings.

In November 2010, Kelora Systems, LLC filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The complaint alleges that our website infringes a patent owned by Kelora Systems purporting to cover a “Method and system for executing a guided parametric search” (U.S. Patent No. 6,275,821) and seeks monetary damages, costs, attorneys fees, and injunctive relief. In August 2011, Kelora filed an amended complaint adding Amazon subsidiaries Audible, Inc. and Zappos.com, Inc. as defendants. We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.

In December 2010, Technology Innovations, LLC filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that Amazon’s sale of e-books and Kindle e-readers infringes a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “Device For Including Enhancing Information With Printed Information And Method For Electronic Searching Thereof” (U.S. Patent No. 5,517,407) and seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief, costs, interest, and attorneys fees. The complaint was dismissed without prejudice in August 2011, but the plaintiff filed a new complaint against us in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware containing similar allegations and alleging infringement of an additional patent purporting to cover an “Apparatus for the Display of Embedded Information” (U.S. Patent No. 7,429,965). We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.

In February 2011, SFA Systems, LLC, filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that by using computer-implemented systems and methods for personalization Amazon and Zappos infringe a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover an “Integrated Computerized Sales Force Automation System” (U.S. Patent No. 6,067,525), and seeks monetary damages, interest, costs, and attorneys fees. In August 2011, the plaintiff filed an additional complaint against us in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas alleging, among other things, that certain supply chain, sales, marketing, and inventory systems and methods used by Amazon and Zappos infringe a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “Sales Force Automation System and Method” (U.S. Patent No. 7,941,341 ), and seeking monetary damages, interest, costs, and attorneys fees. We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.

        In March 2011, MasterObjects, Inc., filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The complaint alleges, among other things, that by providing drop down “search suggestions” of increasing relevance as users type queries into our search box, Amazon infringes a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “System and Method for Utilizing Asynchronous Client Server Communication Objects” (U.S. Patent No. 7,752,326), and seeks monetary damages, interest, injunctive relief, costs, and attorneys’ fees. The complaint was dismissed without prejudice in August 2011.

 

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In April 2011, Walker Digital LLC filed six complaints against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The complaints allege that we infringe several of the plaintiff’s U.S. patents by, among other things, providing “cross benefits” to customers through our promotions, (Patent Nos. 7,831,470 and 7,827,056), using a customer’s identified original product to offer a substitute product (No. 7,236,942), offering products and services from retailers at discounted prices and arranging for users to buy them from merchants (No. 6,249,772), using our product recommendations and personalization features to offer complementary products together (Nos. 6,601,036 and 6,138,105), enabling customers to subscribe to a delivery schedule for products they routinely use at reduced prices (No. 5,970,470), and offering personalized advertising based on customers’ preferences identified using a data pattern (No. 7,933,893). A seventh complaint, filed in the same court in October 2011, alleges that we infringe plaintiff’s U.S. Patent No. 8,041,711 by offering personalized advertising based on customer preferences that associate data with resource locators. The complaints seek monetary damages, interest, injunctive relief, costs, and attorneys’ fees. We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in these matters. In June 2011, the complaint alleging that we infringed Patent No. 6,249,772 was dismissed.

In September 2011, Parallel Iron, LLC, filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The complaint alleges, among other things, that certain AWS file storage systems that include a Hadoop Distributed File System infringe a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover “Methods and Systems for a Storage System With a Program-Controlled Switch for Routing Data” (U.S. Patent No. 7,415,565), and seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief, costs, and attorneys fees. We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.

In September 2011, Lochner Technologies, LLC, filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that by offering products used for desktop virtualization or cloud computing solutions that provide virtual desktop environments Amazon infringes a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “Modular Computer System” (U.S. Patent No. 7,035,598), and seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief, costs, and attorneys fees. We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.

In September 2011, Semiconductor Ideas to the Market BV filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that by offering products including our Kindle e-reader that employ receiver technology designed to diminish signal leakage Amazon infringes two patents owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “Receiver Comprising A Digitally Controlled Capacitor Bank” (U.S. Patent No. 7,299,018) and a “Communication Device” (U.S. Patent No. 7,072,614), and seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief, costs, and attorneys fees. We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.

In September 2011, Droplets, Inc. filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that by offering web applications and software Amazon infringes two patents owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “System and Method for Delivering a Graphical User Interface of Remote Applications Over a Thin Client” (U.S. Patent No. 6,687,745) and a “System and Method for Delivering Remotely Stored Graphics and Information” (U.S. Patent No. 7,502,838), and seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief, costs, and attorneys fees. We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.

In September 2011, Execware, LLC filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The complaint alleges, among other things, that by rapidly formatting and reformatting tabular displays of records, such as product listings on our websites, Amazon infringes a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover an “Integrated Dialog Box for Rapidly Altering Presentation of Parametric Text Data Objects on a Computer Display” (U.S. Patent No. 6,216,139), and seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief, costs, and attorneys fees. We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.

In September 2011, Select Retrieval, Inc. filed complaints against us and one of our subsidiaries for patent infringement in the United States District Courts for the District of Oregon and the District of Delaware. The complaints allege, among other things, that certain aspects of our websites’ technology infringe a patent owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover “Data Display Software with Actions and Links Integrated with Information” (U.S. Patent No. 6,128,617), and seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief, costs, and attorneys fees. We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in these matters.

In September 2011, LVL Patent Group, LLC filed three complaints against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The complaints allege, among other things, that certain aspects of our technology, including our mobile applications, infringe four patents owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “Telephone/Transaction Entry Device and System for Entering Transaction Data into Databases” (U.S. Patent Nos. 5,805,676; 5,987,103; and 8,019,060) and a “Data Transaction Assembly Server” (U.S. Patent No. 6,044,382), and seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief, costs, and attorneys fees. We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.

 

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In October 2011, Smartphone Technologies LLC filed a complaint against us for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint alleges, among other things, that certain aspects of our Kindle devices infringe five patents owned by the plaintiff purporting to cover a “Power-Conserving Intuitive Device Discovery Technique In A Bluetooth Environment” (U.S. Patent No. 6,950,645); a “Handheld Computer System That Attempts To Establish An Alternative Network Link Upon Failing To Establish A Requested Network Link” (U.S. Patent No. 7,506,064); a “Method And Apparatus For Communicating Information Over Low Bandwidth Communications Networks” (U.S. Patent No. RE 40,459); a “Method For Controlling A Handheld Computer By Entering Commands Onto A Displayed Feature Of The Handheld Computer” (U.S. Patent No. 6,956,562); and a “System and Method For Displaying And Manipulating Multiple Calendars On A Personal Digital Assistant” (U.S. Patent No. 6,466,236). The complaint seeks monetary damages, costs, and interest. We dispute the allegations of wrongdoing and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter.

We cannot predict the impact (if any) that any of the matters described above or in our 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K or Forms 10-Q for the Periods Ended March 31, 2011 and June 30, 2011, may have on our business, results of operations, financial position, or cash flows. Because of the inherent uncertainties of such matters, including the early stage and lack of specific damage claims in many of them, we cannot estimate the range of possible losses from them (except as otherwise indicated).

Other Contingencies

At the end of June 2011, the State of California passed a law that purported to impose sales tax collection obligations on companies that make online retail sales to California customers based on a number of factors. In September 2011, the State of California passed a law that suspended the June 2011 law until January 1, 2013, if a Federal law imposing a sales tax collection obligation under a nationwide system is enacted prior to July 31, 2012; otherwise, this obligation is effective September 15, 2012.

See also “Note 7 — Income Taxes.”

Note 4 — Acquisitions, Goodwill, and Acquired Intangible Assets

In the nine months ended September 30, 2011, we acquired certain companies for an aggregate purchase price of $738 million. The primary reasons for these acquisitions, none of which was individually material to our consolidated financial statements, were to expand our customer base and sales channels. Acquisition-related costs were expensed as incurred and were not significant. The aggregate purchase price of these acquisitions was allocated as follows (in millions):

 

Purchase Price

  

Cash paid, net of cash acquired

   $ 617   

Existing equity interest

     89   

Stock options assumed

     20   

Indemnification holdbacks

     12   
   $ 738   
  

 

 

 

Allocation

  

Goodwill

   $ 593   

Intangible assets (1):

  

Marketing-related

     120   

Contract-based

     6   

Customer-related

     71   
  

 

 

 
     197   

Fixed assets

     116   

Deferred tax assets

     48   

Other assets acquired

     64   

Deferred tax liabilities

     (66

Debt

     (70

Other liabilities assumed (2)

     (144
  

 

 

 
   $ 738   
  

 

 

 

 

(1) Acquired intangible assets have estimated useful lives of between 2 and 10 years.
(2) Includes a $38 million contingent liability related to historic tax exposures.

 

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In addition to cash consideration and the fair value of vested stock options, the aggregate purchase price included the estimated fair value of our previous, noncontrolling interest in one of the acquired companies. We remeasured this equity interest to fair value at the acquisition date and recognized a non-cash gain of $6 million in “equity-method investment activity, net of tax,” in our Q1 2011 consolidated statement of operations. The fair value of assumed stock options was estimated using the Black-Scholes model. We determined the estimated fair value of identifiable intangible assets acquired primarily by using the income and cost approaches. Purchased identifiable intangible assets are included within “Other assets” on our consolidated balance sheets and are being amortized to operating expenses on a straight-line or accelerated basis over their estimated useful lives.

Pro Forma Financial Information (unaudited)

The acquired companies were consolidated into our financial statements starting on their respective acquisition dates. The aggregate net sales and net losses of the acquired companies recorded in our consolidated statement of operations from the respective acquisition dates through September 30, 2011 were $314 million and $50 million, which is primarily related to Q2 and Q3 2011 activity. The following pro forma financial information presents our results as if these acquisitions had occurred at the beginning of 2010 (in millions):

 

     Nine Months
Ended September 30,
 
     2011      2010  

Net sales

   $ 30,760       $ 21,597   

Net income

     432         682   

Goodwill

Goodwill is generally not deductible for tax purposes and is primarily related to expected sales growth from future product offerings and customers, together with certain intangible assets that do not qualify for separate recognition. The following summarizes our goodwill activity in 2011 by segment (in millions):

 

     North America     International     Consolidated  

Goodwill - January 1, 2011

   $ 1,116      $ 233      $ 1,349   

New acquisitions

     417        176        593   

Other adjustments (1)

     (2     (6     (8
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Goodwill - September 30, 2011

   $ 1,531      $ 403      $ 1,934   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1) Primarily includes changes in foreign exchange.

Note 5 — Stockholders’ Equity

Stock Award Activity

We granted restricted stock units representing 1.0 million and 0.8 million shares of common stock during Q3 2011 and Q3 2010 with a per share weighted average fair value of $218.08 and $133.45. For the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010, we granted restricted stock units representing 4.5 million and 4.7 million shares of common stock with a per share weighted average fair value of $191.87 and $135.16.

 

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Common shares outstanding plus shares underlying outstanding stock awards totaled 469 million and 465 million at September 30, 2011, and December 31, 2010. These totals include all vested and unvested stock-based awards outstanding, including those awards we estimate will be forfeited. The following table summarizes our restricted stock unit activity for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 (in millions):

 

     Number of Units  

Outstanding at December 31, 2010

     14.0   

Units granted

     4.5   

Units vested

     (3.5

Units forfeited

     (1.0
  

 

 

 

Outstanding at September 30, 2011

     14.0   
  

 

 

 

Scheduled vesting for outstanding restricted stock units at September 30, 2011, is as follows (in millions):

 

     Three  Months
Ended
December  31,
2011
     Year Ended December 31,                
        2012      2013      2014      2015      Thereafter      Total  

Scheduled vesting—restricted stock units

     1.6         4.4         4.1         2.3         1.1         0.5         14.0   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

As of September 30, 2011, there was $872 million of net unrecognized compensation cost related to unvested stock-based compensation arrangements. This compensation is recognized on an accelerated basis, with approximately half of the compensation expected to be expensed in the next twelve months, and has a weighted average recognition period of 1.3 years.

Note 6 — Comprehensive Income

Comprehensive income (loss) was $(147) million and $382 million for Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $403 million and $662 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. The primary differences between net income as reported and comprehensive income (loss) are foreign currency translation adjustments, net of tax, and changes in unrealized gains and losses on available-for-sale securities, net of tax.

Note 7 — Income Taxes

Our tax provision for interim periods is determined using an estimate of our annual effective tax rate, adjusted for discrete items, if any, that are taken into account in the relevant period. This estimate is based on forecasts of our expected annual tax expense and pre-tax income. Each quarter we update our estimate of the annual effective tax rate, and if our estimated tax rate changes, we make a cumulative adjustment, which in Q3 2011 resulted in a quarterly tax rate significantly higher than our estimated annual tax rate. The 2011 annual effective tax rate is estimated to be lower than the 35% U.S. federal statutory rate primarily due to anticipated earnings of our subsidiaries in jurisdictions where our effective tax rate is lower than in the U.S. Cash paid for income taxes (net of refunds) was $12 million and $16 million in Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $18 million and $62 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010.

As of September 30, 2011, and December 31, 2010, gross unrecognized tax benefits (“tax contingencies”) were $228 million and $213 million. Due to the nature of our business operations we expect the total amount of tax contingences for prior period tax positions will grow in 2011 in comparable amounts to 2010; however, changes in state and federal tax laws or tax assessments may impact our tax contingencies. It is reasonably possible that within the next 12 months we will receive additional assessments by various tax authorities. These assessments may or may not result in changes to our contingencies.

We are under examination, or may be subject to examination by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) for calendar years 2005 through 2010. These examinations may lead to ordinary course adjustments or proposed adjustments to our taxes or our net operating losses. In addition, while we have not yet received a Revenue Agent’s Report generally issued at the conclusion of an IRS examination, we recently received Notices of Proposed Adjustment from the IRS for the 2005 and 2006 calendar years relating to transfer pricing with our foreign subsidiaries. The Notices propose an increase to our U.S. taxable income which would result in additional federal tax expense over a seven year period beginning in 2005 totaling approximately $1.5 billion, subject to interest. We disagree with the proposed adjustments and intend to vigorously contest them. If we are not able to resolve these proposed adjustments at the IRS examination level, we plan to pursue all available administrative and, if necessary, judicial remedies.

Note 8 — Segment Information

We have organized our operations into two principal segments: North America and International. We present our segment information along the same lines that our chief executive reviews our operating results in assessing performance and allocating resources.

 

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We allocate to segment results the operating expenses “Fulfillment,” “Marketing,” “Technology and content,” and “General and administrative,” but exclude from our allocations the portions of these expense lines attributable to stock-based compensation. We do not allocate the line item “Other operating expense (income), net” to our segment operating results. A majority of our costs for “Technology and content” are incurred in the United States and most of these costs are allocated to our North America segment. There are no internal revenue transactions between our reporting segments.

Information on reportable segments and reconciliation to consolidated net income was as follows:

 

     Three Months
Ended September 30,
    Nine Months
Ended September 30,
 
     2011     2010     2011     2010  
     (in millions)     (in millions)  

North America

        

Net sales

   $ 5,932      $ 4,126      $ 16,804      $ 11,496   

Segment operating expenses (1)

     5,788        3,940        16,156        10,837   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Segment operating income

   $ 144      $ 186      $ 648      $ 659   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

International

        

Net sales

   $ 4,944      $ 3,434      $ 13,842      $ 9,761   

Segment operating expenses (1)

     4,828        3,219        13,379        9,107   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Segment operating income

   $ 116      $ 215      $ 463      $ 654   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Consolidated

        

Net sales

   $ 10,876      $ 7,560      $ 30,646      $ 21,257   

Segment operating expenses (1)

     10,616        7,159        29,535        19,944   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Segment operating income

     260        401        1,111        1,313   

Stock-based compensation

     (144     (107     (397     (304

Other operating income (expense), net

     (37     (26     (112     (77
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income from operations

     79        268        602        932   

Total non-operating income (expense)

     51        24        59        58   

Provision for income taxes

     (67     (79     (205     (267

Equity-method investment activity, net of tax

     —          18        (2     13   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net income

   $ 63      $ 231      $ 454      $ 736   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1) Represents operating expenses, excluding stock-based compensation and “Other operating expense (income), net,” which are not allocated to segments.

Net sales of similar products and services were as follows:

 

     Three Months Ended
September 30,
     Nine Months Ended
September 30,
 
     2011      2010      2011      2010  
     (in millions)      (in millions)  

Net Sales:

     

Media

   $ 4,153       $ 3,350       $ 11,770       $ 9,654   

Electronics and other general merchandise

     6,316         3,970         17,799         10,971   

Other (1)

     407         240         1,077         632   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 
   $ 10,876       $ 7,560       $ 30,646       $ 21,257   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1) Includes non-retail activities, such as AWS, miscellaneous marketing and promotional agreements, other seller sites, and our co-branded credit card agreements.

 

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Item 2. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

Forward-Looking Statements

This Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements other than statements of historical fact, including statements regarding guidance, industry prospects or future results of operations or financial position, made in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q are forward-looking. We use words such as anticipates, believes, expects, future, intends, and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements reflect management’s current expectations and are inherently uncertain. Actual results could differ materially for a variety of reasons, including, among others, fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, changes in global economic conditions and consumer spending, world events, the rate of growth of the Internet and online commerce, the amount that Amazon.com invests in new business opportunities and the timing of those investments, the mix of products sold to customers, the mix of net sales derived from products as compared with services, the extent to which we owe income taxes, competition, management of growth, potential fluctuations in operating results, international growth and expansion, the outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment center optimization, risks of inventory management, seasonality, the degree to which the Company enters into, maintains, and develops commercial agreements, acquisitions, and strategic transactions, payments risks, and risks of fulfillment throughput and productivity. In addition, the current global economic climate amplifies many of these risks. These risks and uncertainties, as well as other risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ significantly from management’s expectations, are described in greater detail in Item 1A of Part II, “Risk Factors.”

For additional information, see Item 7 of Part II, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Overview” of our 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Critical Accounting Judgments

The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, revenues and expenses, and related disclosures of contingent assets and liabilities in the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes. The SEC has defined a company’s critical accounting policies as the ones that are most important to the portrayal of the company’s financial condition and results of operations, and which require the company to make its most difficult and subjective judgments, often as a result of the need to make estimates of matters that are inherently uncertain. Based on this definition, we have identified the critical accounting policies and judgments addressed below. We also have other key accounting policies, which involve the use of estimates, judgments, and assumptions that are significant to understanding our results. For additional information, see Item 8 of Part II, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data — Note 1 — Description of Business and Accounting Policies,” of our 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K and Item 1 of Part I, “Financial Statements — Note 1 — Accounting Policies,” of this Form 10-Q. Although we believe that our estimates, assumptions, and judgments are reasonable, they are based upon information presently available. Actual results may differ significantly from these estimates under different assumptions, judgments, or conditions.

Inventories

Inventories, consisting of products available for sale, are primarily accounted for using the first-in first-out -method, and are valued at the lower of cost or market value. This valuation requires us to make judgments, based on currently-available information, about the likely method of disposition, such as through sales to individual customers, returns to product vendors, or liquidations, and expected recoverable values of each disposition category.

These assumptions about future disposition of inventory are inherently uncertain. As a measure of sensitivity, for every 1% of additional inventory valuation allowance we would have recorded an additional cost of sales of approximately $40 million for Q3 2011.

Goodwill

We evaluate goodwill for impairment annually or more frequently when an event occurs or circumstances change that indicate that the carrying value may not be recoverable. Our annual testing date is October 1. We test goodwill for impairment by first comparing the book value of net assets to the fair value of the reporting units. If the fair value is determined to be less than the book value or qualitative factors indicate that it is more likely than not that goodwill is impaired, a second step is performed to compute the amount of impairment as the difference between the estimated fair value of goodwill and the carrying value. We estimate the fair value of the reporting units using discounted cash flows. Forecasts of future cash flow are based on our best estimate of future net sales and operating expenses, based primarily on expected category expansion, pricing, market segment share and general economic conditions. Certain estimates of discounted cash flows involve businesses and geographies with limited financial history and developing revenue models. Changes in these forecasts could significantly change the amount of impairment recorded, if any.

 

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During the quarter, management monitored the actual performance of the business relative to the fair value assumptions used during our annual goodwill impairment test. For the periods presented, no triggering events were identified that require an update to our annual impairment test. As a measure of sensitivity, a 10% decrease in the fair value of any of our reporting units as of December 31, 2010, would have had no impact on the carrying value of our goodwill.

Financial and credit market volatility directly impacts our fair value measurement through our weighted average cost of capital that we use to determine our discount rate and through our stock price that we use to determine our market capitalization. During times of volatility, significant judgment must be applied to determine whether credit or stock price changes are a short-term swing or a longer-term trend. As a measure of sensitivity, a prolonged 20% decrease from our September 30, 2011, closing stock price would not be an indicator of possible impairment.

Stock-Based Compensation

We measure compensation cost for stock awards at fair value and recognize it as compensation expense over the service period for awards expected to vest. The fair value of restricted stock units is determined based on the number of shares granted and the quoted price of our common stock. The estimation of stock awards that will ultimately vest requires judgment for the amount that will be forfeited, and to the extent actual results or updated estimates differ from our current estimates, such amounts will be recorded as a cumulative adjustment in the period estimates are revised. We consider many factors when estimating expected forfeitures, including employee class, economic environment, and historical experience. We update our estimated forfeiture rate quarterly. A 1% change to our estimated forfeiture rate would have had an approximately $24 million impact on our Q3 2011 operating income. Our estimated forfeiture rates at September 30, 2011, and December 31, 2010, were 28% and 30%.

We utilize the accelerated method, rather than the straight-line method, for recognizing compensation expense. Under this method, over 50% of the compensation cost is expensed in the first year of a four year vesting term. If forfeited early in the life of an award, the forfeited amount is much greater under an accelerated method than under a straight-line method.

Income Taxes

We are subject to income taxes in both the U.S. and numerous foreign jurisdictions. Significant judgment is required in evaluating and estimating our tax positions and determining our provision and accruals for these taxes. During the ordinary course of business, there are many transactions and calculations for which the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. For example, our effective tax rates could be adversely affected by earnings being lower than anticipated in countries where we have lower statutory rates and higher than anticipated in countries where we have higher statutory rates, by changes in foreign currency exchange rates, entry into new businesses and geographies and changes to our existing businesses, acquisitions, by changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities, or by changes in the relevant tax, accounting and other laws, regulations, principles and interpretations. We are subject to audit in various jurisdictions, and such jurisdictions may assess additional income tax against us. Although we believe our tax estimates are reasonable, the final determination of tax audits and any related litigation could be materially different from our historical income tax provisions and accruals. The results of an audit or litigation could have a material effect on our operating results or cash flows in the period or periods for which that determination is made, as well as prior and subsequent periods.

If we determine that additional portions of our deferred tax assets are realizable, the majority of the benefit will come from the assets associated with the stock-based compensation that was not recognized in the financial statements, but was claimed on the tax return. Since this compensation did not originally run through our consolidated statements of operations, the benefit generated will be recorded to stockholders’ equity.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

See Item 1 of Part I, “Financial Statements — Note 1 — Accounting Policies — Recent Accounting Pronouncements.”

 

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Liquidity and Capital Resources

Cash flow information is as follows:

 

     Three Months Ended
September 30,
    Nine Months Ended
September 30,
    Twelve Months Ended
September 30,
 
     2011     2010     2011     2010     2011     2010  
     (in millions)     (in millions)     (in millions)  

Operating activities

   $ 797      $ 855      $ (366   $ 7      $ 3,114      $ 2,617   

Investing activities

     100        (1,128     (461     (2,145     (1,676     (3,753

Financing activities

     (82     93        (149     224        (183     172   

Our financial focus is on long-term, sustainable growth in free cash flow1. Free cash flow, a non-GAAP financial measure, was $1.53 billion for the trailing twelve months ended September 30, 2011, compared to $1.83 billion for the trailing twelve months ended September 30, 2010, a decrease of 17%. See “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” below for a reconciliation of free cash flow to cash provided by operating activities. The decrease in free cash flow for the trailing twelve months ended September 30, 2011, compared to the comparable prior year period was primarily due to increased capital expenditures and changes in working capital2, partially offset by net income, excluding depreciation, amortization, and stock-based compensation expense, decreased tax benefits on excess stock-based compensation deductions, and increases in sales of gift certificates to customers. Tax benefits relating to excess stock-based compensation deductions are presented in the statement of cash flows as financing cash inflows; accordingly, as such tax benefits decline, a greater amount of cash is classified as operating cash inflow. Operating cash flows and free cash flows can be volatile and are sensitive to many factors, including changes in working capital and the timing and magnitude of capital expenditures. Working capital at any specific point in time is subject to many variables, including seasonality, inventory management and category expansion, the timing of cash receipts and payments, vendor payment terms, and fluctuations in foreign exchange rates.

Our principal sources of liquidity are cash flows generated from operations and our cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities balances, which, at fair value, were $6.33 billion and $8.76 billion at September 30, 2011, and December 31, 2010. Amounts held in foreign currencies were $2.90 billion and $3.44 billion at September 30, 2011, and December 31, 2010, and were primarily Euros, British Pounds and Japanese Yen.

Cash provided by (used in) operating activities was $797 million and $855 million for Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $(366) million and $7 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. Our operating cash flows result primarily from cash received from our consumer, seller, and enterprise customers, miscellaneous marketing and promotional agreements, and our co-branded credit card agreements, offset by cash payments we make for products and services, employee compensation (less amounts capitalized related to internal use software that are reflected as cash used in investing activities), payment processing and related transaction costs, operating leases and interest payments on our long-term obligations. Cash received from our consumer, seller, and enterprise customers, and other activities generally corresponds to our net sales. Because consumers primarily use credit cards to buy from us, our receivables from customers settle quickly. Changes to our operating cash flows have historically been driven primarily by changes in operating income and changes to the components of working capital, including changes to receivable and payable days and inventory turns, as well as changes to non-cash items such as excess stock-based compensation and deferred taxes.

Cash provided by (used in) investing activities corresponds with purchases, sales, and maturities of marketable securities, capital expenditures, including leasehold improvements, internal-use software and website development costs, and cash outlays for acquisitions, investments in other companies, and intellectual property rights. Cash provided by (used in) investing activities was $100 million and $(1.1) billion for Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $(461) million and $(2.1) billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010, with the variability caused primarily by purchases, maturities, and sales of marketable securities and other investments, increased capital expenditures, and increases in cash paid for acquisitions. Capital expenditures were $529 million and $315 million during Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $1.3 billion and $651 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010, with the sequential increases primarily reflecting additional investments in support of continued business growth, including investments in technology infrastructure, including AWS, and additional capacity to support our fulfillment operations. We expect this trend to continue over time. Capital expenditures included $71 million and $45 million for internal-use software and website development during Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $186 million and $129 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. Stock-based compensation capitalized for internal-use software and website development costs does not affect cash flows. We made cash payments, net of acquired cash, related to acquisition and other investment activity of $48 million and $42 million during Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $656 million and $82 million during the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010.

 

(1) 

Free cash flow, a non-GAAP financial measure, is defined as net cash provided by operating activities less purchases of fixed assets, including capitalized internal-use software and website development, both of which are presented on our consolidated statements of cash flows. See “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” below.

(2) 

Working capital consists of accounts receivable, inventory, and accounts payable.

 

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Cash provided by (used in) financing activities was $(82) million and $93 million for Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $(149) million and $224 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. Cash outflows from financing activities result from payments on obligations related to capital leases and leases accounted for as financing arrangements and repayments of long-term debt. Payments on obligations related to capital leases and leases accounted for as financing arrangements and repayments of long-term debt were $91 million and $49 million in Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $341 million and $122 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. Cash inflows from financing activities primarily result from proceeds from long-term debt and tax benefits relating to excess stock-based compensation deductions. Proceeds from long-term debt and other were $9 million and $67 million in Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $131 million and $110 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. Tax benefits relating to excess stock-based compensation deductions are presented as financing cash flows. Cash inflows (outflows) from tax benefits related to stock-based compensation deductions were $0 and $75 million for Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $61 million and $236 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010.

We recorded net tax provisions of $67 million and $79 million in Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $205 million and $267 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. A majority of this provision is non-cash. We have current tax benefits relating to excess stock-based compensation deductions that are being utilized to reduce our U.S. taxable income. Except as required under U.S. tax law, we do not provide for U.S. taxes on our undistributed earnings of foreign subsidiaries that have not been previously taxed since we intend to invest such undistributed earnings indefinitely outside of the U.S. Cash taxes paid (net of refunds) were $12 million and $16 million for Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $18 million and $62 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. We used substantially all of our federal net operating loss carryforwards in 2010 and as of December 31, 2010, we had available federal tax credits of $227 million. Once we utilize our generated and acquired federal and state net operating losses and tax credits, we expect cash paid for taxes to significantly increase. We endeavor to optimize our global taxes on a cash basis, rather than on a financial reporting basis.

In January 2010, our Board of Directors authorized a program to repurchase up to $2 billion of our common stock, which replaces the prior February 2008 repurchase authorization. We did not repurchase common stock in 2010 or during the nine months ended September 30, 2011.

See Item 1 of Part I, “Financial Statements — Note 3 — Commitments and Contingencies” for additional discussion of our principal contractual commitments, as well as our pledged securities. Purchase obligations and open purchase orders, consisting of inventory and significant non-inventory commitments, were $4.6 billion at September 30, 2011. Purchase obligations and open purchase orders are generally cancelable in full or in part through the contractual provisions.

Because of our model we are able to turn our inventory quickly and have a cash-generating operating cycle3. On average, our high inventory velocity means we collect from our customers before our payments to suppliers come due. Inventory turnover4 was 11 and 12 for Q3 2011 and Q3 2010. We expect some variability in inventory turnover over time as it is affected by several factors, including category expansion and changes in our product mix, the mix of sales by us and by other sellers, our continuing focus on in-stock inventory availability, our investment in new geographies and product lines, and the extent to which we choose to utilize outsource fulfillment providers.

We believe that current cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities balances will be sufficient to meet our anticipated operating cash needs for at least the next 12 months. However, any projections of future cash needs and cash flows are subject to substantial uncertainty. See Item 1A of Part II, “Risk Factors.” We continually evaluate opportunities to sell additional equity or debt securities, obtain credit facilities, repurchase common stock, pay dividends, or repurchase, refinance, or otherwise restructure our debt for strategic reasons or to further strengthen our financial position. The sale of additional equity or convertible debt securities would likely be dilutive to our shareholders. In addition, we will, from time to time, consider the acquisition of, or investment in, complementary businesses, products, services, and technologies, which might affect our liquidity requirements or cause us to issue additional equity or debt securities. There can be no assurance that additional lines-of-credit or financing instruments will be available in amounts or on terms acceptable to us, if at all.

 

(3)

The operating cycle is number of days of sales in inventory plus number of days of sales in accounts receivable minus accounts payable days.

(4)

Inventory turnover is the quotient of trailing twelve month cost of sales to average inventory over five quarter ends.

 

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Results of Operations

We have organized our operations into two principal segments: North America and International. We present our segment information along the same lines that our chief executive reviews our operating results in assessing performance and allocating resources.

 

     Three Months Ended
September 30,
    Nine Months Ended
September 30,
 
     2011     2010     2011     2010  
     (in millions)     (in millions)  

Net Sales:

        

North America

   $ 5,932      $ 4,126      $ 16,804      $ 11,496   

International

     4,944        3,434        13,842        9,761   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Consolidated

   $ 10,876      $ 7,560      $ 30,646      $ 21,257   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Year-over-year Percentage Growth:

        

North America

     44     45     46     46

International

     44        32        42        37   

Consolidated

     44        39        44        42   

Year-over-year Percentage Growth, excluding effect of exchange rates:

        

North America

     44     45     46     46

International

     33        35        32        37   

Consolidated

     39        40        40        41   

Net Sales Mix:

        

North America

     55     55     55     54

International

     45        45        45        46   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Consolidated

     100     100     100     100
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Sales increased 44% in Q3 2011. Changes in currency exchange rates affected net sales positively by $371 million for Q3 2011 and positively by $992 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. For a discussion of the effect on sales growth of exchange rates, see “Effect of Exchange Rates” below.

The North America sales growth rate was 44% for Q3 2011 and 46% for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. Sales growth primarily reflects increased unit sales. Increased unit sales were driven largely by our continued efforts to reduce prices for our customers, including from shipping offers, by a larger base of sales in faster growing categories such as electronics and other general merchandise, by increased in-stock inventory availability, and by increased selection of product offerings.

The International sales growth rate was 44% for Q3 2011 and 42% for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. Sales growth primarily reflects increased unit sales. Increased unit sales were driven largely by our continued efforts to reduce prices for our customers, including from shipping offers, by a larger base of sales in faster growing categories such as electronics and other general merchandise, by increased in-stock inventory availability, and by increased selection of product offerings. Additionally, changes in currency exchange rates affected International net sales positively by $367 million for Q3 2011 and positively by $981 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. We expect that, over time, our International segment will represent 50% or more of our consolidated net sales.

Sales of products by other sellers on our websites represented 38% and 35% of units for Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and 37% and 34% for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. Revenues from such sales are recorded as a net amount.

 

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Supplemental Information

Supplemental information about shipping results is as follows:

 

     Three Months Ended
September 30,
    Nine Months Ended
September 30,
 
     2011     2010     2011     2010  
     (in millions)     (in millions)  

Shipping Activity:

        

Shipping revenue (1)(2)

   $ 360      $ 270      $ 1,020      $ 756   

Outbound shipping costs

     (918     (576     (2,523     (1,580
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net shipping cost

   $ (558   $ (306   $ (1,503   $ (824
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Year-over-year Percentage Growth:

        

Shipping revenue

     33     30     35     30

Outbound shipping costs

     59        49        60        47   

Net shipping cost

     83        70        82        67   

Percent of Net Sales:

        

Shipping revenue

     3.3     3.6     3.3     3.5

Outbound shipping costs

     (8.4     (7.6     (8.2     (7.4
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net shipping cost

     (5.1 )%      (4.0 )%      (4.9 ) %      (3.9 )% 
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1) Excludes amounts earned on shipping activities by third-party sellers where we do not provide the fulfillment service.
(2) Includes amounts earned from the Amazon Prime membership shipping service and Fulfillment by Amazon programs.

We expect our net cost of shipping to continue to increase to the extent our customers accept and use our shipping offers at an increasing rate; to the extent our product mix shifts to the electronics and other general merchandise category; to the extent we reduce shipping rates; to the extent we use more expensive shipping methods; and to the extent we offer additional services. We seek to mitigate costs of shipping over time in part through achieving higher sales volumes, negotiating better terms with our suppliers, and achieving better operating efficiencies. We believe that offering low prices to our customers is fundamental to our future success, and one way we offer lower prices is through shipping offers.

 

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Net sales by similar products and services were as follows:

 

     Three Months Ended
September 30,
    Nine Months Ended
September 30,
 
     2011     2010     2011     2010  
     (in millions)     (in millions)  

Net Sales:

      

North America

        

Media

   $ 1,927      $ 1,591      $ 5,397      $ 4,512   

Electronics and other general merchandise

     3,635        2,326        10,435        6,440   

Other (1)

     370        209        972        544   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total North America

   $ 5,932      $ 4,126      $ 16,804      $ 11,496   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

International

        

Media

   $ 2,226      $ 1,759      $ 6,373      $ 5,142   

Electronics and other general merchandise

     2,681        1,644        7,364        4,531   

Other (1)

     37        31        105        88   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total International

   $ 4,944      $ 3,434      $ 13,842      $ 9,761   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Consolidated

        

Media

   $ 4,153      $ 3,350      $ 11,770      $ 9,654   

Electronics and other general merchandise

     6,316        3,970        17,799        10,971   

Other (1)

     407        240        1,077        632   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total consolidated

   $ 10,876      $ 7,560      $ 30,646      $ 21,257   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Year-over-year Percentage Growth:

        

North America

        

Media

     21     13     20     17

Electronics and other general merchandise

     56        80        62        76   

Other

     77        52        79        53   

Total North America

     44        45        46        46   

International

        

Media

     27     16     24     22

Electronics and other general merchandise

     63        54        63        61   

Other

     21        26        20        30   

Total International

     44        32        42        37   

Consolidated

        

Media

     24     14     22     19

Electronics and other general merchandise

     59        68        62        69   

Other

     70        48        70        50   

Total consolidated

     44        39        44        42   

Year-over-year Percentage Growth:

        

Excluding the effect of exchange rates

        

International

        

Media

     17     18     15     20

Electronics and other general merchandise

     51        60        51        61   

Other

     13        33        13        32   

Total International

     33        35        32        37   

Consolidated

        

Media

     19     15     17     18

Electronics and other general merchandise

     54        71        58        70   

Other

     69        49        69        50   

Total consolidated

     39        40        40        41   

Consolidated Net Sales Mix:

        

Media

     38     44     38     45

Electronics and other general merchandise

     58        53        58        52   

Other

     4        3        4        3   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total consolidated

     100     100     100     100
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1) Includes non-retail activities, such as AWS, miscellaneous marketing and promotional agreements, other seller sites, and our co-branded credit card agreements.  

 

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Table of Contents

Operating Expenses

Information about operating expenses with and without stock-based compensation was as follows (in millions):

 

    Three Months Ended September 30,     Nine Months Ended September 30,  
    2011     2010     2011     2010  
    As
Reported
    Stock-Based
Compensation
    Net     As
Reported
    Stock-Based
Compensation
    Net     As
Reported
    Stock-Based
Compensation
    Net     As
Reported
    Stock-Based
Compensation
    Net  

Operating Expenses:

                       

Cost of sales

  $ 8,325      $ —        $ 8,325      $ 5,786      $ —        $ 5,786      $ 23,457      $ —        $ 23,457      $ 16,244      $ —        $ 16,244   

Fulfillment

    1,121        (35     1,086        680        (23     657        2,917        (91     2,826        1,808        (65     1,743   

Marketing

    370        (10     360        241        (7     234        1,037        (27     1,010        653        (19     634   

Technology and content

    769        (75     694        442        (56     386        2,047        (211     1,836        1,216        (159     1,057   

General and administrative

    175        (24     151        117        (21     96        474        (68     406        327        (61     266   

Other operating expense (income), net

    37        —          37        26        —          26        112        —          112        77        —          77   
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

  $ 10,797      $ (144   $ 10,653      $ 7,292      $ (107   $ 7,185      $ 30,044      $ (397   $ 29,647      $ 20,325      $ (304   $ 20,021   
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Year-over-year Percentage Growth:

                       

Fulfillment

    65       65     46       48     61       62     39       41

Marketing

    53          54        62          63        59          59        61          62   

Technology and content

    74          80        40          45        68          74        37          39   

General and administrative

    50          58        40          39        45          52        44          43   

Percent of Net Sales:

                       

Fulfillment

    10.3       10.0     9.0       8.7     9.5       9.2     8.5       8.2

Marketing

    3.4          3.3        3.2          3.1        3.4          3.3        3.1          3.0   

Technology and content

    7.1          6.4        5.9          5.1        6.7          6.0        5.7          5.0   

General and administrative

    1.6          1.4        1.5          1.3        1.5          1.3        1.5          1.3   

Operating expenses without stock-based compensation are non-GAAP financial measures. See “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” below.

Cost of Sales

Cost of sales consists of the purchase price of consumer products and content where we are the seller of record, inbound and outbound shipping charges, and packaging supplies. Shipping charges to receive products from our suppliers are included in our inventory, and recognized as cost of sales upon sale of products to our customers.

The increase in cost of sales in absolute dollars in Q3 2011 and for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 compared to the comparable prior year periods is primarily due to increased product and shipping costs resulting from increased sales.

Consolidated gross profit and gross margin for each of the periods presented were as follows:

 

     Three Months Ended
September 30,
    Nine Months Ended
September 30,
 
     2011     2010     2011     2010  

Gross profit (in millions)

   $ 2,551      $ 1,774      $ 7,189      $ 5,013   

Gross margin

     23.5     23.5     23.5     23.6

Gross margin for Q3 2011 and the nine months ended September 30, 2011, remained relatively consistent with prior year periods. We believe that income from operations is a more meaningful measure than gross profit and gross margin due to the diversity of our product categories and services.

Fulfillment

        Fulfillment costs as a percentage of net sales may vary due to several factors, such as payment processing and related transaction costs, our level of productivity and accuracy, changes in volume, size, and weight of units received and fulfilled, timing of fulfillment capacity expansion, the extent we utilize fulfillment services provided by third parties, mix of products and services sold and our ability to affect customer service contacts per unit by implementing improvements in our operations and enhancements to our customer self-service features. Additionally, because payment processing costs associated with seller transactions are based on the gross purchase price of underlying transactions, and payment processing and related transaction costs are higher as a percentage of sales versus our retail sales, sales by our sellers have higher fulfillment costs as a percent of net sales.

The increase in fulfillment costs in absolute dollars in Q3 2011 and for the nine months ended September 30, 2011, compared to the comparable prior year periods, is primarily due to variable costs corresponding with sales volume, inventory levels, and product sales mix; payment processing and related transaction costs, and costs from expanding fulfillment capacity.

We seek to expand our fulfillment capacity to accommodate greater selection and in-stock inventory levels and meet anticipated shipment volumes from sales of our own products as well as sales by third parties for which we provide the fulfillment services. We evaluate our facility requirements as necessary.

 

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Marketing

We direct customers to our websites primarily through a number of targeted online marketing channels, such as our Associates program, sponsored search, portal advertising, email marketing campaigns, and other initiatives. Our marketing expenses are largely variable, based on growth in sales and changes in rates. To the extent there is increased or decreased competition for these traffic sources, or to the extent our mix of these channels shifts, we would expect to see a corresponding change in our marketing expense.

The increase in marketing costs in absolute dollars in Q3 2011 and for the nine months ended September 30, 2011, compared to the comparable prior year periods is primarily due to increased spending on online marketing channels, such as sponsored search programs and our Associates program.

While costs associated with our shipping are not included in marketing expense, we view these offers as effective worldwide marketing tools, and intend to continue offering them indefinitely.

Technology and Content

We seek to efficiently invest in several areas of technology and content including seller platforms, digital initiatives, and expansion of new and existing product categories, as well as technology infrastructure, including AWS, so that we can continue to enhance the customer experience and improve our process efficiency. We expect spending in technology and content to increase over time as we continue to add employees and technology infrastructure.

The increase in technology and content costs in absolute dollars in Q3 2011 and for the nine months ended September 30, 2011, compared to the comparable prior year periods is primarily due to increased spending on technology infrastructure and increases in payroll and related expenses. We expect these trends to continue over time.

During Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, we capitalized $75 million (including $4 million of stock-based compensation) and $55 million (including $10 million of stock-based compensation) of costs associated with internal-use software and website development. For the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010, we capitalized $212 million (including $26 million of stock-based compensation) and $156 million (including $27 million of stock-based compensation) of costs associated with internal-use software and website development. Amortization of previously capitalized amounts was $62 million and $47 million for Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $171 million and $135 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. A majority of our technology costs are incurred in the U.S., most of which are allocated to our North America segment. Infrastructure and other technology costs used to support AWS are included in technology and content.

General and Administrative

The increase in general and administrative costs in absolute dollars in Q3 2011 and for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 compared to the comparable prior year periods is primarily due to increases in payroll and related expenses and professional service fees.

Stock-Based Compensation

Compensation cost for all stock-based awards is measured at fair value on date of grant and recognized using an accelerated method over the service period for awards expected to vest. The fair value of restricted stock units is determined based on the number of shares granted and the quoted price of our common stock. Such value is recognized as expense over the service period, net of estimated forfeitures, using the accelerated method. The estimation of stock awards that will ultimately vest requires judgment, and to the extent actual results or updated estimates differ from our current estimates, such amounts are recorded as a cumulative adjustment in the period estimates are revised. We consider many factors when estimating expected forfeitures including employee class, the economic environment, and historical experience. Actual results and future estimates may differ substantially from our current estimates.

Stock-based compensation was $144 million and $107 million during Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $397 million and $304 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. The increase is primarily due to an increase in total stock-based compensation value granted to our employees and to a decrease in our estimated forfeiture rate.

Other Operating Expense (Income), Net

Other operating expense (income) was $37 million and $26 million for Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $112 million and $77 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. The increase was primarily related to the amortization of intangible assets.

 

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Income from Operations

For the reasons discussed above, income from operations decreased 71% to $79 million in Q3 2011, from $268 million in Q3 2010 and 35% to $602 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011, from $932 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2010.

Interest Income and Expense

The primary component of our interest expense is related to our capital leases and leases accounted for as financing arrangements. Interest expense was $17 million and $11 million during Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $45 million and $28 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010.

Our interest income was $16 million and $13 million during Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $47 million and $36 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. We generally invest our excess cash in investment grade short- to intermediate-term fixed income securities and AAA-rated money market funds. Our interest income corresponds with the average balance of invested funds and the prevailing rates we are earning on them, which vary depending on the geographies and currencies in which they are invested.

Income Taxes

Our tax provision for interim periods is determined using an estimate of our annual effective tax rate, adjusted for discrete items, if any, that are taken into account in the relevant period. There is a potential for significant volatility of our 2011 effective tax rate due to several factors, including from variability in accurately predicting our taxable income, the taxable jurisdictions to which it relates, business acquisitions and investments, and foreign currencies. Each quarter we update our estimate of the annual effective tax rate, and if our estimated tax rate changes, we make a cumulative adjustment, which in Q3 2011 resulted in a quarterly tax rate significantly higher than our estimated annual tax rate.

We have current tax benefits relating to excess stock-based compensation deductions that are being utilized to reduce our U.S. taxable income. We used substantially all of our federal net operating loss carryforwards in 2010 and as of December 31, 2010, had available federal tax credits of $227 million. As a result of new U.S. legislation that became effective in December 2010, we are able to accelerate our depreciation deductions for qualifying property acquired in 2011. Once we utilize our generated and acquired federal and state net operating losses and tax credits, we expect cash paid for taxes to significantly increase.

Equity–Method Investment Activity, Net of Tax

Equity–method investment gains (losses), net of tax, were $0 and $18 million during Q3 2011 and Q3 2010, and $(2) million and $13 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010. The Q3 2011 amounts include a $74 million gain as a result of reductions, through dilution, in our ownership percentage of LivingSocial, offset by $(44) million of equity method losses and $(30) million of estimated out-of-period adjustments resulting from changes in previously reported operating results of LivingSocial.

 

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Effect of Exchange Rates

The effect on our consolidated statements of operations from changes in exchange rates versus the U.S. Dollar is as follows (in millions, except per share data):

 

    Three Months Ended September 30,     Nine Months Ended September 30,  
    2011     2010     2011     2010  
    At Prior
Year
Rates (1)
    Exchange
Rate
Effect (2)
    As
Reported
    At Prior
Year
Rates (1)
    Exchange
Rate
Effect (2)
    As
Reported
    At Prior
Year
Rates (1)
    Exchange
Rate
Effect (2)
    As
Reported
    At Prior
Year
Rates (1)
    Exchange
Rate
Effect (2)
    As
Reported
 

Net sales

  $ 10,505      $ 371      $ 10,876      $ 7,643      $ (83   $ 7,560      $ 29,654      $ 992      $ 30,646      $ 21,204      $ 53      $ 21,257   

Operating expenses

    10,440        357        10,797        7,360        (68     7,292        29,100        944        30,044        20,262        63        20,325   

Income from operations

    65        14        79        283        (15     268        554        48        602        942        (10     932   

Net interest income (expense) and other (3)

    43        8        51        22        2        24        47        12        59        59        (1     58   

Net income

    33        30        63        228        3        231        393        61        454        710        26        736   

Diluted earnings per share

  $ 0.08      $ 0.06      $ 0.14      $ 0.50      $ 0.01      $ 0.51      $ 0.86      $ 0.13      $ 0.99      $ 1.56      $ 0.06      $ 1.62   

 

(1) Represents the outcome that would have resulted had exchange rates in the reported period been the same as those in effect in the comparable prior year period for operating results, and if we did not incur the variability associated with remeasurements for our intercompany balances.
(2) Represents the increase or decrease in reported amounts resulting from changes in exchange rates from those in effect in the comparable prior year period for operating results, and if we did not incur the variability associated with remeasurements for our intercompany balances.
(3) Includes foreign-currency transaction gains and losses.

Non-GAAP Financial Measures

Regulation G, Conditions for Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures, and other SEC regulations define and prescribe the conditions for use of certain non-GAAP financial information. Our measures of “Free cash flow,” operating expenses with and without stock-based compensation, and the effect of exchange rates on our consolidated statement of operations, meet the definition of non-GAAP financial measures.

Free cash flow is used in addition to and in conjunction with results presented in accordance with GAAP and free cash flow should not be relied upon to the exclusion of GAAP financial measures.

Free cash flow, which we reconcile to “Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities,” is cash flow from operations reduced by “Purchases of fixed assets, including internal-use software and website development.” We use free cash flow, and ratios based on it, to conduct and evaluate our business because, although it is similar to cash flow from operations, we believe it typically will present a more conservative measure of cash flows since purchases of fixed assets are a necessary component of ongoing operations.

Free cash flow has limitations due to the fact that it does not represent the residual cash flow available for discretionary expenditures. For example, free cash flow does not incorporate the portion of payments representing principal reductions of obligations related to capital leases and leases accounted for as financing arrangements or cash payments for business acquisitions. Therefore, we believe it is important to view free cash flow as a complement to our entire consolidated statements of cash flows.

 

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The following is a reconciliation of free cash flow to the most comparable GAAP measure, “Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities” for the trailing twelve months ended September 30, 2011 and 2010 (in millions):

 

     Twelve Months Ended
September 30,
 
     2011     2010  

Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities

   $ 3,114      $ 2,617   

Purchases of fixed assets, including internal-use software and website development

     (1,589     (788
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Free cash flow

   $ 1,525      $ 1,829   
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net cash used in investing activities

   $ (1,676   $ (3,753
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net cash provided by (used in) financing activities

   $ (183   $ 172   
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating expenses with and without stock-based compensation is provided to show the impact of stock-based compensation, which is non-cash and excluded from our internal operating plans and measurement of financial performance (although we consider the dilutive impact to our shareholders when awarding stock-based compensation and value such awards accordingly). In addition, unlike other centrally-incurred operating costs, stock-based compensation is not allocated to segment results and therefore excluding it from operating expense is consistent with our segment presentation in our footnotes to the consolidated financial statements.

Operating expenses without stock-based compensation has limitations since it does not include all expenses primarily related to our workforce. More specifically, if we did not pay out a portion of our compensation in the form of stock-based compensation, our cash salary expense included in the “Fulfillment,” “Technology and content,” “Marketing,” and “General and administrative” line items would be higher.

Information regarding the effect of exchange rates, versus the U.S. Dollar, on our consolidated statements of operations is provided to show reported period operating results had the exchange rates remained the same as those in effect in the comparable prior year period.

Guidance

We provided guidance on October 25, 2011, in our earnings release furnished on Form 8-K as set forth below. These forward-looking statements reflect Amazon.com’s expectations as of October 25, 2011. Our results are inherently unpredictable and may be materially affected by many factors, such as fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, changes in global economic conditions and consumer spending, world events, the rate of growth of the Internet and online commerce and the various factors detailed below.

Fourth Quarter 2011 Guidance

 

   

Net sales are expected to be between $16.45 billion and $18.65 billion, or to grow between 27% and 44% compared with fourth quarter 2010.

 

   

Operating income (loss) is expected to be between $(200) million and $250 million, or between 142% decline and 47% decline compared with fourth quarter 2010.

 

   

This guidance includes approximately $200 million for stock-based compensation and amortization of intangible assets, and it assumes, among other things, that no additional business acquisitions or investments are concluded and that there are no further revisions to stock-based compensation estimates.

These projections are subject to substantial uncertainty. See Item 1A of Part II, “Risk Factors.”

 

Item 3. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

We are exposed to market risk for the effect of interest rate changes, foreign currency fluctuations, and changes in the market values of our investments. Information relating to quantitative and qualitative disclosures about market risk is set forth below and in Item 2 of Part I, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources.”

Interest Rate Risk

Our exposure to market risk for changes in interest rates relates primarily to our investment portfolio. All of our cash equivalent and marketable fixed income securities are designated as available-for-sale and, accordingly, are presented at fair value on our consolidated balance sheets. We generally invest our excess cash in investment grade short- to intermediate-term fixed income securities and AAA-rated money market funds. Fixed rate securities may have their fair market value adversely affected due to a rise in interest rates, and we may suffer losses in principal if forced to sell securities that have declined in market value due to changes in interest rates.

 

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Foreign Exchange Risk

During Q3 2011, net sales from our International segment accounted for 45% of our consolidated revenues. Net sales and related expenses generated from our international websites, as well as those relating to www.amazon.ca (which is included in our North America segment), are denominated in the functional currencies of the corresponding websites and primarily include Euros, British Pounds and Japanese Yen. The functional currency of our subsidiaries that either operate or support these websites is the same as the corresponding local currency. The results of operations of, and certain of our intercompany balances associated with, our internationally-focused websites are exposed to foreign exchange rate fluctuations. Upon consolidation, as exchange rates vary, net sales and other operating results may differ materially from expectations, and we may record significant gains or losses on the remeasurement of intercompany balances. For example, as a result of fluctuations in foreign exchange rates throughout the period compared to rates in effect the prior year, international segment revenues in Q3 2011 increased by $367 million in comparison with Q3 2010.

We have foreign exchange risk related to foreign-denominated cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities (“foreign funds”). Based on the balance of foreign funds at September 30, 2011, of $2.9 billion, an assumed 5%, 10%, and 20% negative currency movement would result in fair value declines of $145 million, $290 million, and $580 million. All investments are classified as available-for-sale. Fluctuations in fair value are recorded in “Accumulated other comprehensive loss,” a separate component of stockholders’ equity.

We have foreign exchange risk related to our intercompany balances denominated in various foreign currencies. Based on the intercompany balances at September 30, 2011, an assumed 5%, 10%, and 20% adverse change to foreign exchange would result in losses of $55 million, $105 million, and $205 million, recorded to “Other income (expense), net.”

See Item 2 of Part I, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Results of Operations — Effect of Exchange Rates” for additional information on the effect on reported results of changes in exchange rates.

Investment Risk

As of September 30, 2011, our recorded basis in equity investments was $247 million. These investments primarily relate to equity-method investments in private companies. We review our investments for impairment when events and circumstances indicate that the decline in fair value of such assets below the carrying value is other-than-temporary. Our analysis includes review of recent operating results and trends, recent sales/acquisitions of the investee securities, and other publicly available data. The current global economic climate provides additional uncertainty. Valuations of private companies are inherently more difficult due to the lack of readily available market data. As such we believe that market sensitivities are not practicable.

 

Item 4. Controls and Procedures

We carried out an evaluation required by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “1934 Act”), under the supervision and with the participation of our principal executive officer and principal financial officer, of the effectiveness of the design and operation of our disclosure controls and procedures, as defined in Rule 13a-15(e) of the 1934 Act, as of the end of the period covered by this report. Based on this evaluation, our principal executive officer and principal financial officer concluded that our disclosure controls and procedures were effective to provide reasonable assurance that information required to be disclosed by us in the reports that we file or submit under the 1934 Act is recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the SEC’s rules and forms and to provide reasonable assurance that such information is accumulated and communicated to our management, including our principal executive officer and principal financial officer, as appropriate to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure.

During the most recent fiscal quarter, there has not occurred any change in our internal control over financial reporting that has materially affected, or is reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.

Our disclosure controls and procedures are designed to provide reasonable assurance of achieving their objectives as specified above. Management does not expect, however, that our disclosure controls and procedures will prevent or detect all error and fraud. Any control system, no matter how well designed and operated, is based upon certain assumptions and can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that its objectives will be met. Further, no evaluation of controls can provide absolute assurance that misstatements due to error or fraud will not occur or that all control issues and instances of fraud, if any, within the Company have been detected.

 

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PART II. OTHER INFORMATION

 

Item 1. Legal Proceedings

See Item 1 of Part I, “Financial Statements — Note 3 — Commitments and Contingencies — Legal Proceedings” and “—Other Contingencies.”

 

Item 1A. Risk Factors

Please carefully consider the following risk factors. If any of the following risks occur, our business, financial condition, operating results, and cash flows could be materially adversely affected. In addition, the current global economic climate amplifies many of these risks.

We Face Intense Competition

Our businesses are rapidly evolving and intensely competitive, and we have many competitors in different industries, including retail, e-commerce services, digital content and digital media devices, and web services. Many of our current and potential competitors have greater resources, longer histories, more customers, and greater brand recognition. They may secure better terms from vendors, adopt more aggressive pricing and devote more resources to technology, infrastructure, fulfillment, and marketing.

Competition may intensify as our competitors enter into business combinations or alliances and established companies in other market segments expand into our market segments. In addition, new and enhanced technologies, including search, web services, and digital, may increase our competition. The Internet facilitates competitive entry and comparison shopping, and increased competition may reduce our sales and profits.

Our Expansion Places a Significant Strain on our Management, Operational, Financial and Other Resources

We are rapidly and significantly expanding our global operations, including increasing our product and service offerings and scaling our infrastructure to support our retail and services businesses. This expansion increases the complexity of our business and places significant strain on our management, personnel, operations, systems, technical performance, financial resources, and internal financial control and reporting functions. We may not be able to manage growth effectively, which could damage our reputation, limit our growth and negatively affect our operating results.

Our Expansion into New Products, Services, Technologies and Geographic Regions Subjects Us to Additional Business, Legal, Financial and Competitive Risks

We may have limited or no experience in our newer market segments, and our customers may not adopt our new offerings. These offerings may present new and difficult technology challenges, and we may be subject to claims if customers of these offerings experience service disruptions or failures or other quality issues. In addition, profitability, if any, in our newer activities may be lower than in our older activities, and we may not be successful enough in these newer activities to recoup our investments in them. If any of this were to occur, it could damage our reputation, limit our growth and negatively affect our operating results.

We May Experience Significant Fluctuations in Our Operating Results and Growth Rate

We may not be able to accurately forecast our growth rate. We base our expense levels and investment plans on sales estimates. A significant portion of our expenses and investments is fixed, and we may not be able to adjust our spending quickly enough if our sales are less than expected.

Our revenue growth may not be sustainable, and our percentage growth rates may decrease. Our revenue and operating profit growth depends on the continued growth of demand for the products and services offered by us or our sellers, and our business is affected by general economic and business conditions worldwide. A softening of demand, whether caused by changes in customer preferences or a weakening of the U.S. or global economies, may result in decreased revenue or growth.

Our net sales and operating results will also fluctuate for many other reasons, including due to risks described elsewhere in this section and the following:

 

   

our ability to retain and increase sales to existing customers, attract new customers, and satisfy our customers’ demands;

 

   

our ability to retain and expand our network of sellers;

 

   

our ability to offer products on favorable terms, manage inventory, and fulfill orders;

 

   

the introduction of competitive websites, products, services, price decreases, or improvements;

 

   

changes in usage or adoption rates of the Internet, e-commerce, digital media devices and web services, including in non-U.S. markets;

 

   

timing, effectiveness, and costs of expansion and upgrades of our systems and infrastructure;

 

   

the success of our geographic, service, and product line expansions;

 

   

the outcomes of legal proceedings and claims;

 

   

variations in the mix of products and services we sell;

 

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variations in our level of merchandise and vendor returns;

 

   

the extent to which we offer free shipping, continue to reduce product prices worldwide, and provide additional benefits to our customers;

 

   

the extent to which we invest in technology and content, fulfillment and other expense categories;

 

   

increases in the prices of fuel and gasoline, as well as increases in the prices of other energy products and commodities like paper and packing supplies;

 

   

the extent to which our equity method investees record significant operating and non-operating items;

 

   

the extent to which operators of the networks between our customers and our websites successfully charge fees to grant our customers unimpaired and unconstrained access to our online services;

 

   

our ability to collect amounts owed to us when they become due;

 

   

the extent to which use of our services is affected by spyware, viruses, phishing and other spam emails, denial of service attacks, data theft, computer intrusions and similar events; and

 

   

terrorist attacks and armed hostilities.

We May Not Be Successful in Our Efforts to Expand into International Market Segments

Our international activities are significant to our revenues and profits, and we plan to further expand internationally. In certain international market segments, we have relatively little operating experience and may not benefit from any first-to-market advantages or otherwise succeed. It is costly to establish, develop and maintain international operations and websites and promote our brand internationally. Our international operations may not be profitable on a sustained basis.

In addition to risks described elsewhere in this section, our international sales and operations are subject to a number of risks, including:

 

   

local economic and political conditions;

 

   

government regulation of e-commerce, other online services and electronic devices and restrictive governmental actions (such as trade protection measures, including export duties and quotas and custom duties and tariffs), nationalization and restrictions on foreign ownership;

 

   

restrictions on sales or distribution of certain products or services and uncertainty regarding liability for products, services and content, including uncertainty as a result of less Internet-friendly legal systems, local laws, lack of legal precedent, and varying rules, regulations, and practices regarding the physical and digital distribution of media products and enforcement of intellectual property rights;

 

   

business licensing or certification requirements, such as for imports, exports and electronic devices;

 

   

limitations on the repatriation and investment of funds and foreign currency exchange restrictions;

 

   

limited fulfillment and technology infrastructure;

 

   

shorter payable and longer receivable cycles and the resultant negative impact on cash flow;

 

   

laws and regulations regarding consumer and data protection, privacy, network security, encryption, and restrictions on pricing or discounts;

 

   

lower levels of use of the Internet;

 

   

lower levels of consumer spending and fewer opportunities for growth compared to the U.S.;

 

   

lower levels of credit card usage and increased payment risk;

 

   

difficulty in staffing, developing and managing foreign operations as a result of distance, language and cultural differences;

 

   

different employee/employer relationships and the existence of workers’ councils and labor unions;

 

   

laws and policies of the U.S. and other jurisdictions affecting trade, foreign investment, loans and taxes; and

 

   

geopolitical events, including war and terrorism.

As the international e-commerce channel grows, competition will intensify. Local companies may have a substantial competitive advantage because of their greater understanding of, and focus on, the local customer, as well as their more established local brand names. We may not be able to hire, train, retain, and manage required personnel, which may limit our international growth.

 

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In 2004, we acquired Joyo.com Limited, which is organized under the laws of the British Virgin Islands and through a People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) entity, provides technology and services for the Joyo Amazon websites. The PRC regulates Joyo Amazon’s business through regulations and license requirements restricting (i) foreign investment in the Internet, retail and delivery sectors, (ii) Internet content and (iii) the sale of media and other products. In order to meet local ownership and regulatory licensing requirements, Joyo Amazon’s business is operated by PRC companies that are indirectly owned, either wholly or partially, by PRC nationals. Although we believe Joyo Amazon’s structure complies with existing PRC laws, it involves unique risks. There are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation of PRC laws and regulations, and it is possible that the PRC government will ultimately take a view contrary to ours. If Joyo Amazon (including its subsidiary and affiliates) were found to be in violation of any existing or future PRC laws or regulations or if interpretations of those laws and regulations were to change, the business could be subject to fines and other financial penalties, have its licenses revoked or be forced to shut down entirely. In addition, if Joyo Amazon were unable to enforce its contractual relationships with respect to management and control of its business, it might be unable to continue to operate the business.

If We Do Not Successfully Optimize and Operate Our Fulfillment Centers, Our Business Could Be Harmed

If we do not adequately predict customer demand or otherwise optimize and operate our fulfillment centers successfully, it could result in excess or insufficient inventory or fulfillment capacity, result in increased costs, impairment charges, or both, or harm our business in other ways. A failure to optimize inventory will increase our net shipping cost by requiring long-zone or partial shipments. Orders from several of our websites are fulfilled primarily from a single location, and we have only a limited ability to reroute orders to third parties for drop-shipping. We and our co-sourcers may be unable to adequately staff our fulfillment and customer service centers. As we continue to add fulfillment and warehouse capability or add new businesses with different fulfillment requirements, our fulfillment network becomes increasingly complex and operating it becomes more challenging. If the other businesses on whose behalf we perform inventory fulfillment services deliver product to our fulfillment centers in excess of forecasts, we may be unable to secure sufficient storage space and may be unable to optimize our fulfillment centers. There can be no assurance that we will be able to operate our network effectively.

We rely on a limited number of shipping companies to deliver inventory to us and completed orders to our customers. If we are not able to negotiate acceptable terms with these companies or they experience performance problems or other difficulties, it could negatively impact our operating results and customer experience. In addition, our ability to receive inbound inventory efficiently and ship completed orders to customers also may be negatively affected by inclement weather, fire, flood, power loss, earthquakes, labor disputes, acts of war or terrorism, acts of God and similar factors.

Third parties either drop-ship or otherwise fulfill an increasing portion of our customers’ orders, and we are increasingly reliant on the reliability, quality and future procurement of their services. Under some of our commercial agreements, we maintain the inventory of other companies, thereby increasing the complexity of tracking inventory and operating our fulfillment centers. Our failure to properly handle such inventory or the inability of these other companies to accurately forecast product demand would result in unexpected costs and other harm to our business and reputation.

The Seasonality of Our Business Places Increased Strain on Our Operations

We expect a disproportionate amount of our net sales to occur during our fourth quarter. If we do not stock or restock popular products in sufficient amounts such that we fail to meet customer demand, it could significantly affect our revenue and our future growth. If we overstock products, we may be required to take significant inventory markdowns or write-offs, which could reduce profitability. We may experience an increase in our net shipping cost due to complimentary upgrades, split-shipments, and additional long-zone shipments necessary to ensure timely delivery for the holiday season. If too many customers access our websites within a short period of time due to increased holiday demand, we may experience system interruptions that make our websites unavailable or prevent us from efficiently fulfilling orders, which may reduce the volume of goods we sell and the attractiveness of our products and services. In addition, we may be unable to adequately staff our fulfillment and customer service centers during these peak periods and delivery and other fulfillment companies and customer service co-sourcers may be unable to meet the seasonal demand. We also face risks described elsewhere in this Item 1A relating to fulfillment center optimization and inventory.

We generally have payment terms with our vendors that extend beyond the amount of time necessary to collect proceeds from our customers. As a result of holiday sales, at December 31 of each year, our cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities balances typically reach their highest level (other than as a result of cash flows provided by or used in investing and financing activities). This operating cycle results in a corresponding increase in accounts payable at December 31. Our accounts payable balance generally declines during the first three months of the year, resulting in a corresponding decline in our cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities balances.

 

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Our Business Could Suffer if We Are Unsuccessful in Making, Integrating, and Maintaining Commercial Agreements, Strategic Alliances, and Other Business Relationships

We provide e-commerce services to other businesses through our seller programs and other commercial agreements, strategic alliances and business relationships. Under these agreements, we provide technology, fulfillment and other services, as well as enable sellers to offer products or services through our websites and power their websites. These arrangements are complex and require substantial personnel and resource commitments by us, which may limit the agreements we are able to enter into and our ability to integrate and deliver services under them. If we fail to implement, maintain, and develop the components of these commercial relationships, which may include fulfillment, customer service, inventory management, tax collection, payment processing, licensing of third-party software, hardware, and content, and engaging third parties to perform hosting and other services, these initiatives may not be viable. The amount of compensation we receive under certain of these agreements is partially dependent on the volume of the other company’s sales. Therefore, if the other company’s offering is not successful, the compensation we receive may be lower than expected or the agreement may be terminated. Moreover, we may not be able to enter into additional commercial relationships and strategic alliances on favorable terms. We also may be subject to claims from businesses to which we provide these services if we are unsuccessful in implementing, maintaining or developing these services.

As our agreements terminate, we may be unable to renew or replace these agreements on comparable terms, or at all. We may in the future enter into amendments on less favorable terms or encounter parties that have difficulty meeting their contractual obligations to us, which could adversely affect our operating results.

Our present and future e-commerce services agreements, other commercial agreements, and strategic alliances create additional risks such as:

 

   

disruption of our ongoing business, including loss of management focus on existing businesses;

 

   

impairment of other relationships;

 

   

variability in revenue and income from entering into, amending, or terminating such agreements or relationships; and

 

   

difficulty integrating under the commercial agreements.

Our Business Could Suffer if We Are Unsuccessful in Making, Integrating, and Maintaining Acquisitions and Investments

We have acquired and invested in a number of companies, and we may acquire or invest in or enter into joint ventures with additional companies. These transactions create risks such as:

 

   

disruption of our ongoing business, including loss of management focus on existing businesses;

 

   

problems retaining key personnel;

 

   

additional operating losses and expenses of the businesses we acquired or in which we invested;

 

   

the potential impairment of tangible assets, such as inventory, and intangible assets and goodwill acquired in the acquisitions;

 

   

the potential impairment of customer and other relationships of the company we acquired or in which we invested or our own customers as a result of any integration of operations;

 

   

the difficulty of incorporating acquired technology and rights into our offerings and unanticipated expenses related to such integration;

 

   

the difficulty of integrating a new company’s accounting, financial reporting, management, information, human resource and other administrative systems to permit effective management, and the lack of control if such integration is delayed or not implemented;

 

   

the difficulty of implementing at companies we acquire the controls, procedures and policies appropriate for a larger public company;

 

   

potential unknown liabilities associated with a company we acquire or in which we invest; and

 

   

for foreign transactions, additional risks related to the integration of operations across different cultures and languages, and the economic, political, and regulatory risks associated with specific countries.

As a result of future acquisitions or mergers, we might need to issue additional equity securities, spend our cash, or incur debt, contingent liabilities, or amortization expenses related to intangible assets, any of which could reduce our profitability and harm our business. In addition, valuations supporting our acquisitions and strategic investments could change rapidly given the current global economic climate. We could determine that such valuations have experienced impairments or other-than-temporary declines in fair value which could adversely impact our financial results.

 

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We Have Foreign Exchange Risk

The results of operations of, and certain of our intercompany balances associated with, our international websites are exposed to foreign exchange rate fluctuations. Upon translation, operating results may differ materially from expectations, and we may record significant gains or losses on the remeasurement of intercompany balances. As we have expanded our international operations, our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations has increased. We also hold cash equivalents and/or marketable securities primarily in Euros, Japanese Yen, and British Pounds. If the U.S. Dollar strengthens compared to these currencies, cash equivalents and marketable securities balances, when translated, may be materially less than expected and vice versa.

The Loss of Key Senior Management Personnel Could Negatively Affect Our Business

We depend on our senior management and other key personnel, particularly Jeffrey P. Bezos, our President, CEO, and Chairman. We do not have “key person” life insurance policies. The loss of any of our executive officers or other key employees could harm our business.

We Face Risks Related to System Interruption and Lack of Redundancy

We experience occasional system interruptions and delays that make our websites and services unavailable or slow to respond and prevent us from efficiently fulfilling orders or providing services to third parties, which may reduce our net sales and the attractiveness of our products and services. If we are unable to continually add software and hardware, effectively upgrade our systems and network infrastructure and take other steps to improve the efficiency of our systems, it could cause system interruptions or delays and adversely affect our operating results.

Our computer and communications systems and operations could be damaged or interrupted by fire, flood, power loss, telecommunications failure, earthquakes, acts of war or terrorism, acts of God, computer viruses, physical or electronic break-ins, and similar events or disruptions. Any of these events could cause system interruption, delays, and loss of critical data, and could prevent us from accepting and fulfilling customer orders and providing services, which could make our product and service offerings less attractive and subject us to liability. Our systems are not fully redundant and our disaster recovery planning may not be sufficient. In addition, we may have inadequate insurance coverage to compensate for any related losses. Any of these events could damage our reputation and be expensive to remedy.

We Face Significant Inventory Risk

In addition to risks described elsewhere in this Item 1A relating to fulfillment center and inventory optimization by us and third parties, we are exposed to significant inventory risks that may adversely affect our operating results as a result of seasonality, new product launches, rapid changes in product cycles and pricing, defective merchandise, changes in consumer demand and consumer spending patterns, changes in consumer tastes with respect to our products and other factors. We endeavor to accurately predict these trends and avoid overstocking or understocking products we manufacture and/or sell. Demand for products, however, can change significantly between the time inventory or components are ordered and the date of sale. In addition, when we begin selling or manufacturing a new product, it may be difficult to establish vendor relationships, determine appropriate product or component selection, and accurately forecast demand. The acquisition of certain types of inventory or components may require significant lead-time and prepayment and they may not be returnable. We carry a broad selection and significant inventory levels of certain products, such as consumer electronics, and we may be unable to sell products in sufficient quantities or during the relevant selling seasons. Any one of the inventory risk factors set forth above may adversely affect our operating results.

We May Not Be Able to Adequately Protect Our Intellectual Property Rights or May Be Accused of Infringing Intellectual Property Rights of Third Parties

We regard our trademarks, service marks, copyrights, patents, trade dress, trade secrets, proprietary technology, and similar intellectual property as critical to our success, and we rely on trademark, copyright, and patent law, trade secret protection, and confidentiality and/or license agreements with our employees, customers, and others to protect our proprietary rights. Effective intellectual property protection may not be available in every country in which our products and services are made available. We also may not be able to acquire or maintain appropriate domain names in all countries in which we do business. Furthermore, regulations governing domain names may not protect our trademarks and similar proprietary rights. We may be unable to prevent third parties from acquiring domain names that are similar to, infringe upon, or diminish the value of our trademarks and other proprietary rights.

We may not be able to discover or determine the extent of any unauthorized use of our proprietary rights. Third parties that license our proprietary rights also may take actions that diminish the value of our proprietary rights or reputation. The protection of our intellectual property may require the expenditure of significant financial and managerial resources. Moreover, the steps we take to protect our intellectual property may not adequately protect our rights or prevent third parties from infringing or misappropriating our proprietary rights. We also cannot be certain that others will not independently develop or otherwise acquire equivalent or superior technology or other intellectual property rights.

 

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Other parties also may claim that we infringe their proprietary rights. We have been subject to, and expect to continue to be subject to, claims and legal proceedings regarding alleged infringement by us of the intellectual property rights of third parties. Such claims, whether or not meritorious, may result in the expenditure of significant financial and managerial resources, injunctions against us or the payment of damages. We may need to obtain licenses from third parties who allege that we have infringed their rights, but such licenses may not be available on terms acceptable to us or at all. In addition, we may not be able to obtain or utilize on terms that are favorable to us, or at all, licenses or other rights with respect to intellectual property we do not own in providing e-commerce services to other businesses and individuals under commercial agreements. These risks have been amplified by the increase in third parties whose sole or primary business is to assert such claims.

Our digital content offerings depend in part on effective digital rights management technology to control access to digital content. If the digital rights management technology that we use is compromised or otherwise malfunctions, we could be subject to claims, and content providers may be unwilling to include their content in our service.

We Have a Rapidly Evolving Business Model and Our Stock Price Is Highly Volatile

We have a rapidly evolving business model. The trading price of our common stock fluctuates significantly in response to, among other risks, the risks described elsewhere in this Item 1A, as well as:

 

   

changes in interest rates;

 

   

conditions or trends in the Internet and the e-commerce industry;

 

   

quarterly variations in operating results;

 

   

fluctuations in the stock market in general and market prices for Internet-related companies in particular;