Jan 27, 2004 (02:01 PM EST)
Holidays Help Amazon Celebrate Profitable Quarter And Year

Read the Original Article at InformationWeek

SEATTLE (AP) -- Boosted by what it called its busiest holiday season ever, Amazon.com Inc. on Tuesday reported sharply higher profits in its fourth quarter and said it had turned a profit for the year.

The Internet retailing giant said net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 was $73.2 million or 17 cents per share, far better than the $2.7 million or 1 cent per share in the fourth quarter of 2002.

Sales for the three-month period were nearly $1.95 billion, up 36 percent from $1.43 billion a year earlier. The company slightly bested its own earlier estimates that it would have sales of between $1.76 billion and $1.91 billion.

Amazon.com chief executive Jeff Bezos said the company--and its customers--benefited from year-round free shipping options and discount pricing.

For the 12-month period, the company reported net income of $35.3 million or 8 cents per share on revenue of $5.26 billion. That compared with a loss of $149.1 million or 39 cents per share on revenue of $3.93 billion in 2002.

Seattle-based Amazon said it expects sales of between $1.39 billion and $1.49 billion in the current first quarter, an increase of 28 percent to 38 percent over the first quarter a year earlier.

For the year, it projected sales of between $6.2 billion and $6.7 billion.

Amazon.com, which began as a virtual book store, now sells everything from steaks to golf balls.