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Amazon profit up, Kindle demand unusually strong (AFP)


NEW YORK (AFP) - Holiday sales were glum for most retailers but online giant Amazon managed to buck the trend.

The Seattle-based company on Thursday reported that net profits grew by nine percent in the fourth quarter over a year ago to 225 million dollars, or 52 cents per share, well above the 31 cents per share forecast by Wall Street.

It said revenue grew 18 percent in the quarter which ended on December 31 to 6.70 billion dollars and would have been 24 percent if not for the unfavorable impact in foreign exchange rates.

For the year, Amazon reported a 36 percent rise in net profit to 645 million dollars, or 1.49 dollars per share, again significantly better than the 1.37 dollars per share expected by analysts.

Amazon gained 12 percent to 56 dollars in electronic after-hours trading after the fourth quarter results were announced.

In a statement, Amazon said it expected net sales to grow by nine percent to 19 percent to between 4.5 billion dollars and 4.9 billion dollars in the first quarter of the year.

"We remain relentlessly focused on serving customers with low prices, great selection and free shipping offers," Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

Amazon did not release figures but Bezos said demand for the Kindle electronic book readers was "unusually strong" in the fourth quarter.

Amazon, which is expected to issue a new version of the Kindle in New York next month, said it now offers 230,000 titles for the Kindle including 103 of the 112 current New York Times bestsellers.

Amazon said North America sales rose by 18 percent to 3.63 billion dollars in the fourth quarter and accounted for 54 percent of total sales.

International sales rose by 19 percent to 3.07 billion dollars and would have been higher -- 31 percent -- if not for the unfavorable impact of foreign exchange rates.

Amazon said sales of electronics and other general merchandise grew by 31 percent to 2.89 billion dollars in the fourth quarter.




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