Amazon.com posts narrower-than-expected loss

Citing strong growth in electronics sales, Amazon.com Inc. announced Monday that its first quarter net loss will be lower than expected.

The Seattle-based online retailer said it expects to report first quarter revenues of more than $US695 million, up more than 21 percent over net sales of $US574 million in the first quarter 2000. Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial had forecast revenues of $US669.6 million.

Amazon said its pro forma net loss for the quarter is expected to be 22 cents per share; First Call/Thomson Financial had forecast a loss of 30 cents per share. For the same period last year, Amazon posted a pro forma net loss of 35 cents per share.

Amazon said its net loss is expected to be less than $US255 million, down from a net loss of $308 million for the same period last year.

In early morning trading Monday, Amazon stock was up $2.52 to $10.89 per share.

"For the fifth consecutive quarter, we saw substantial improvement in our operations and bottom-line performance," Amazon CEO Jeffrey Bezos said in the statement. "Electronics demonstrated especially strong growth and improvements."

Amazon, like other online retailers, undertook moves to rein in costs, cutting about 1,300 jobs and closing a distribution centre in Georgia and customer service centre in Seattle.

In its effort to become profitable by the fourth quarter of this year, the company also converted a distribution facility in Seattle into a seasonal operation.

Jeffrey Fieler, an analyst at Bear Stearns Co. in New York, agreed that electronics sales helped to push revenues up. Amazon was also helped by a more benign pricing environment, he said.

"Amazon's competitors can't price like they did in the past," Fieler said.

Fieler said Amazon's moves to increase profitability had improved its operations bottom line.

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