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Amazon Q4 earnings grow but miss expectations

SEATTLE -- Amazon's profit and revenue both grew in the latest quarter but its results fell below what Wall Street was expecting and shares of the world's biggest online retailer declined after-hours.

Amazon has long focused on spending the money it makes to grow its business and expand into new areas, from movie streaming to e-readers and even grocery delivery.

Investors have largely forgiven thin profit margins and zeroed in on the company's solid revenue growth and long-term prospects. It's posted losses in two previous quarters due to rising operating costs but the stock hit an all-time high of US$408.06 last week.

However, Thursday's disappointing results and modest revenue forecast for the current quarter sent shares tumbling up to 10 percent after the closing bell. In recent aftermarket trading, shares of the Seattle-based company were down US$20.91, or 5.2 percent, to US$382.10.

Amazon.com Inc. also said it is considering a US$20 to US$40 price hike on its popular Prime service, which currently costs US$79 a year in the U.S. and offers free two-day shipping on most items. The company said it has not raised the price on Prime in the 9 years since its launch, even though shipping costs have increased and it has added new services, such as video streaming.

Amazon earned US$239 million, or 51 cents per share, in the October-December period, which included the key holiday shopping period. That's up from US$97 million, or 21 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

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