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Strong holiday sales boost Amazon's profit

Online retailer Amazon.com Inc. on Tuesday posted a higher quarterly profit, as revenue jumped 36 percent thanks to the company's busiest holiday season yet.
/ Source: Reuters

Online retailer Amazon.com Inc. Tuesday posted a jump in quarterly profit, as revenues surged 36 percent thanks to the company’s busiest holiday season yet and a weaker U.S. dollar.

Fourth-quarter results were strong enough to make 2003 Amazon’s first profitable year ever. But profit margins were not as robust as investors had hoped, and Amazon’s shares dipped in after-hours trade.

Seattle-based Amazon said fourth-quarter net profit rose to $73.2 million, or 17 cents per diluted share, from $2.7 million, or 1 cent a share, in the year-ago period. Profit excluding charges was 29 cents per share, matching the average Wall Street estimate.

Revenues, which benefited from the impact of a weak dollar, jumped 36 percent to a better-than-expected $1.95 billion from $1.43 billion a year ago.

Amazon shares dipped to $55.14 in extended trade from their Nasdaq close of $55.74.
“The upside in revenues didn’t translate into upside in the bottom line. That is what people expect,” Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst Safa Rashtchy said.

Amazon forecast first-quarter revenue of $1.39 billion to $1.49 billion and full-year revenue of $6.20 billion to $6.70 billion.

For the current quarter, analysts polled by Reuters Research had been calling for revenue of $1.32 billion. For 2004, analysts had seen Amazon posting revenue of $6.23 billion.