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Amazon profit rises 29 percent in first quarter

/ Source: The Associated Press

Web retailer Inc. said Wednesday that its first-quarter profit rose 29 percent, helped by solid sales in the U.S. and abroad.

But seemingly lower operating income guidance for the full fiscal year pushed shares down $3.70, or 4.6 percent, to $77.30 in after-hours trading. The stock had closed up $1.40 at $81.

Quarterly earnings climbed to $143 million, or 34 cents per share, from $111 million, or 26 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Those results beat Wall Street's expectations. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had forecast a profit of 32 cents per share.

Revenue increased 37 percent to $4.14 billion from $3.02 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Sales in North America rose 31 percent to $2.13 billion from a year ago. International sales grew 44 percent to $2.01 billion, and accounted for 49 percent of total revenue, up from 46 percent last year.

Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak said in a conference call Wednesday that he did not see evidence in Amazon's results that U.S. shoppers had changed their buying behavior, despite widespread concern about a possible recession.

"We don't have a lot of data points about the economy specifically, but what we're seeing in our business is, it's very solid," he said.

Amazon said it expects sales between $3.86 billion and $4.08 billion for the current quarter. Analysts are looking for $3.84 billion.

For the year, the retailer forecast $19.1 billion to $20.0 billion in revenue, close to Wall Street's current outlook for $19.29 billion.

Amazon's operating income guidance for the year — $740 million to $940 million — came in about $45 million lower on both ends than the company's forecast three months ago.

Szkutak explained that the number was depressed by stock option expenses and costs associated with the acquisition of audio book company, and did not reflect expected changes in company performance.