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Amazon profits up nearly three-fold

No thanks to Harry Potter

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No surprise here: Amazon is selling more stuff than ever. Today, the world's most famous online retailer announced second quarter profits of $78m, a 257 per cent leap from the same quarter last year, and net revenues of $2.88bn, a 35 per cent increase.

As usual, the company took this as an opportunity to trumpet Amazon Prime, the all-you-can-eat express shipping service it introduced in February of 2005. "Our strong revenue growth this quarter was fueled by low prices and the added convenience of Amazon Prime," said founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. "More and more customers are taking advantage of Amazon Prime and we're pleased with the acceleration in subscriber growth this quarter."

The retailer also pointed out that it received more than 2.2m orders for Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows prior to the book's July 21 release, but when questioned during today's conference call with industry analysts, CFO Thomas Szkutak acknowledged that this had almost nothing to do with second quarter results, which cover the three months ending June 30.

Second-quarter sales on the company's U.S. and Canadian sites hit $1.60bn, a 38 per cent year-after-year increase, while revenues from its UK, German, Japanese, French, and Chinese sites were up 31 per cent to $1.28bn. Evidently, UK sales were boosted by s brand new jewelry and watches site.

As worldwide media sales grew 27 per cent to $1.83bn - that's books and movies and the like - sales of electronics and other general merchandise reached $970m, a 55 per cent leap. That gives general merchandise a 34 per cent share of the Amazon pie, up from 29 per cent during the same quarter last year. Meanwhile, the number of registered Amazon buyers topped 69m, a 16 per cent increase, and active seller accounts totaled more than 1.1m.

Wall Street was sufficiently impressed. Amazon's stock price was up 14 per cent in after hours trading.®

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