Amazon has now released its first-quarter financials for 2018, displaying increases in nearly all areas in terms of both year-over-year and sequential growth. Sales were a definitive highlight of Q1 2018, rising 43-percent annually to $51.0 billion. The figure did fall from the previous quarter by around 15.5-percent but that's to be expected since that previous number would have included holiday sales. Meanwhile, operating cash flow did relatively well too, landing at $18.2 billion. That's around a 4-percent increase from last year and around a 1-percent decrease from the proceeding Q4 2017. Free cash flow, on the other hand, is the only number which really seems to have fallen markedly for both QoQ and YoY figures. That landed at $7.3 billion, compared to last year's $10.1 billion and by around 12.5-percent from last quarter. Finally, operating income grew a whopping 92-percent annually, landing at $1.9 billion. That's also down from Q4 2017, which saw an operating income of around $2.1 billion for the online shipping retailer.
The massive scale of Amazon's growth is hardly surprising, with consideration for both its reputation among consumers and its heavy investment in markets outside of shipping. Over the past year, the company has acquired Whole Foods, introduced a number of updates to its Alexa-powered Echo lineup, and made major advancements in terms of its many partnerships. While new hardware and brand power have almost certainly played a pivotal role in its growth, the company has also put quite a lot of effort into its A.I. Alexa has gone from being a smart home hub to an ecosystem supporting everything from text messaging to phone calls and even being included as a key aspect of new home buildouts. Moreover, it not only dominates the A.I. market but has also poured substantial resources into fueling A.I. research. Beyond even that, the company has centered its focus on a wide variety of secondary service improvements. That includes adjustments to its media offerings, which range from ebook sales to music and video services.
Given all of that, if everything continues moving in the current direction, Amazon expects the trend to continue. That's pending any new business acquisitions, investments, restructuring, or legal issues which might trip the company up. According to forward-looking projections, that would mean net sales gains of between $51 billion and $54 billion, or around 34-percent to 42-percent growth. Operating income, on the other hand, would be expected to land at around $1.2 to $1.9 billion. That would be a growth of around 75-percent to 202-percent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2018.