Amazon Earnings Unexpectedly Rise, Crush Forecasts

Shares of Amazon.comleaped in extended trading Thursday as the retailer reported higher earnings that easily beat analysts' forecasts. The company also turned in a sales outlook that beat the Street.

Amazon said it earned $225 million, or 52 cents a share in the fourth quarter, on sales of $6.7 billion, against a profit of 48 cents a share on a topline of $5.67 in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a profit of 39 cents per share.

Sales for the most recent quarter rose to $6.7 billion, up from $5.67 billion a year prior. That figure also topped Street estimates, which had put Amazon's revenue at $6.44 billion.

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The 18 percent revenue jump in the holiday fourth quarter was at the high end of Amazon's own expectations, and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos cited "unusually strong demand" for its Kindle electronic reader."


Amazon also forecast first-quarter sales above expectations. Amazon said it expects fiscal first-quarter operating income to range between $125 million and $210 million on revenues ranging from $4.53 billion to $4.93 billion. Wall Street, on average, has been expecting first-quarter revenues of $4.51 billion.

Shares of Amazon leaped about 13 percent in extended trading Thursday. The stock finished the regular Nasdaq session 0.7 percent lower at an even $50.

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Amazon had called the holiday season its "best ever," and Thursday's earnings report backed up the idea that it is not being hurt by cutbacks in consumer spending. Its lowered prices and discount shipping program, Amazon Prime, have helped the company lure repeat customers to its site.

Amazon is valued at 35 times projected fiscal 2009 earnings, at a premium to competitor eBayand Internet giants like Google or Yahoo at 8, 16 and 29 times forward-looking earnings, respectively.

- AP and Reuters contributed to this report.