Holiday Sales Will Push Amazon Even Higher, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) released preliminary data on the 2017 holiday shopping season, and the numbers suggest another exceptional performance from the leading U.S. e-commerce company. Even with the stock up more than 57 percent in 2017, the Amazon snowball is still rolling and investors could be in for yet another big year in 2018.

Amazon announced a record-setting holiday sales season that included four million new Amazon Prime memberships in a single week and a 70 percent increase in shopping on the Amazon App. Amazon also reported that the Echo Dot and Fire TV stick were the two top-selling products on its platform this holiday season.

Amazon investors will get more details on the incredible fourth quarter when the company reports earnings in late January, but GBH Insights head of technology research Daniel Ives says Amazon once again hit a home run this holiday shopping season. In fact, Ives says Amazon will likely ride its strong performance to an earnings beat this quarter.

GBH estimates Amazon captured between 45 and 50 percent of all online retail sales growth this year, up from 38 percent of new sales in 2016. According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, online sales were up 18 percent overall in November and December.

“With our estimates forecasting overall e-commerce growth rising roughly 18 percent year-over-year for holiday season and Amazon set to comprise roughly half of U.S. e-commerce holiday sales this year, it appears Amazon has significant momentum heading into 2018 and could beat the Street ’s 4Q top-line estimate by 4 to 5 percent if these projections prove out,” Ives says.

Ives says Prime membership is still the core of Amazon’s e-commerce strategy. GBH estimates Prime membership jumped 40 percent to 88 million in the past year and Prime spending was up 22 percent this holiday season.

Ives says Prime membership has helped insulate Amazon from intensifying inline competition from Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) and others.

Looking ahead to 2018, Ives says investors can expect Amazon to continue to aggressively expand into key international markets and take chances on new business ventures as well.

“In terms of Amazon’s next strategic move, we believe…

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