Amazon Stock Drops; Company Lowers Sales Outlook

CNBC.com and Reuters

Amazon.com posted a lower quarterly net profit and thin operating margins that took some of the shine off the world's largest online retailer, sending its shares tumbling in after-hours trade.

Investors have come to depend on Amazon outpacing a soft e-commerce market, as it has taken market share and continued to launch new categories of goods to sell. But the modest results and strained margins took some of the luster off a retailer that many investors view as overvalued.

"It wasn't the blow-out quarter necessarily you've see from them in recent quarters,'' said McAdams Wright Ragen analyst Dan Geiman, noting that stock had had "such a good run in recent weeks.'"

Positive sentiment on the stock has pushed shares up a whopping 80-plus percent since the start of 2009—well in advance of the Nasdaq and outpacing main rival eBay. That gain has led many investors to deem Amazon, despite recent successes in a difficult consumer spending environment, as overly pricey.

Operating margins were 3.4 percent in the quarter, well below the 5 percent seen in the first quarter. At least two analysts had been expecting margins of 4.1 percent or 4.2 percent.

The Seattle-based online retailer said net profit in the second quarter fell 10 percent to $142 million, or 32 cents per share, from $158 million, or 37 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts who follow Amazon expected the company to turn in a profit of 31 cents a share on sales of $4.69 billion, according to a consensus from Thomson Reuters.

Amazon shares , which closed Thursday at $94.03, lost about 7.5 percent in extended trading. Click here to get after-hour quotes for Amazon.com.

Revenue rose 14 percent to $4.65 billion—shy of the $4.69 billion analyst estimate. Excluding currency fluctuations, revenue rose 20 percent.

Operating profit was $159 million, a 27 percent drop, caused by changes in foreign exchange rates and a settlement with Toysrus.com.

Looking ahead, Amazon forecast third-quarter revenue of $4.75 billion to $5.25 billion—compared with the $4.92 billion expected by analysts—with operating profit between $120 million and $210 million.

Amazon said this week that it agreed to buy Zappos.com, a privately held online shoe store, in a deal worth about $850 million.