Earnings Preview: Amazon 3Q revenue likely to grow

NEW YORK -- Amazon.com is expected to post yet another double-digit revenue increase when it reports its third-quarter results Thursday. But the online retailer's investments in new distribution facilities will likely weigh on profit.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Amazon's forecast for the current quarter will be important. It's by far the company's biggest quarter because of the holiday shopping season. Investors are also likely to focus on the company's profitability. While revenue has been growing at a fast clip, Amazon is reinvesting a lot of its earnings to build up a distribution network _ warehouses, for example _ so that it can grow its business over the long term.

Any updates on how the new Kindle Fire tablet computers are selling will also be of interest, though Amazon has never provided sales figures. Amazon unveiled four new versions, including ones with larger color screens, in September. The company said Monday that its $199 Kindle Fire HD is its best-selling product worldwide.

WHY IT MATTERS: Amazon is the world's largest online retailer, so its results can provide a glimpse into the mood of consumers, which power 70 percent of all growth in the U.S. economy. In general, online retailers have been weathering the shaky economy better than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Last week, eBay Inc. said its third-quarter profit rose 22 and lifted its full-year guidance slightly.

WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts, on average, are expecting a loss of 7 cents per share and revenue of $13.92 billion, according to a poll by FactSet.

The Seattle-based company said in July that expects third-quarter revenue to grow between 19 percent and 31 percent from a year earlier. That amounts to sales of $12.9 billion to $14.3 billion. It also forecast an operating loss of $50 million to $350 million.

LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: Amazon earned $63 million, or 14 cents per share, on revenue of $10.9 billion