Amazon splashes less red ink

Sales grow 22 per cent

Amazon.com posted a net loss of £234 million for the first quarter.

Losses for the three months ended March 31 2001 were lower than Q1 2000, when the e-tailer lost $308.4 million. Losses per share were 66 cents per share, compared to 90 cents per share for the same period last year.

The net loss included costs of $114 million, which covered previously the announced restructure and other expenses, and a net gain of $23 million. Sales grew 22 per cent to $700 million.

"This was another quarter of significant progress for Amazon.com - we are on track to reach our objective of pro forma operating profitability in the coming December quarter," said Warren Jenson, Amazon CFO.

The Seattle-based dotcom said it added three million customers during the quarter, including one million international users. This brings its customer accounts to 32 million, including six million international customers. The most popular items bought were from its electronics, tools and kitchen stores.

In January Amazon warned it would lay off 1,300 staff, around 15 per cent of its workforce, and take a $114 charge during Q1.

Today the company said it expected to take an additional charge of $50 million, including restructuring costs, in the second quarter. It expects Q2 sales to be the same or slightly lower than Q1, at between $650 million and $700 million. For full year 2001, it expects sales to be 20 to 30 per cent higher than 2000.

Meanwhile, Amazon is being sued by unhappy shareholders for "misleading" them over the state of its finances, and the FBI is believed to be investigating Bezos regarding stock sales. ®

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