Here's why Amazon's earnings today are so important

Jeff bezos

Amazon reports its Q1 earnings Thursday afternoon and for the first time ever its breaking out the financials of its cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services.

AWS currently has over 1 million active customers, including well-known companies like Pinterest, NASA, Netflix, and Adobe, which use it for computing infrastructure like data storage and processing power.

Google, IBM, Microsoft, and others all have their own cloud computing platforms, but AWS is widely considered to be the biggest player. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has even said in the past that he one day expects AWS to be Amazon’s most significant business, more important even than retail.

Today, we’ll finally see exactly how much revenue AWS pulls in and whether or not it’s profitable. If AWS is profitable, it will prove that the growing segment could in fact be on the path to achieving Bezos’ predictions. If it’s not profitable, analysts and investors will at least want to see that it’s sucking up a lot of investment to grow really fast.

Even if AWS being in the red mutes short-term profitability, Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, tells Business Insider that there’s still an advantage for Amazon.

“The silver lining is that it is revealed that the retail business is doing much better than Wall St. thinks — largely driven by the third-party marketplace part of the biz,” he said.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs are estimating roughly $US1.5 billion in AWS revenue, but no profitability yet. Analysts at Citi don’t believe AWS will be profitable yet either. It estimates it lost $US123 million in 2014, will lose $US46 million this year on $US6.6 billion in revenue, and will earn $US69 million on $US9.1 billion in revenue by 2016.
AWS revenue margin expected Citi

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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