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Amazon expands as etail shrinks

Post-Meltdown sales up 18 per cent

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Unlike the average etailer, Amazon actually enjoyed the post-Meltdown holiday season.

In the fourth quarter, according to those clever net watchers at comScore, etail spending shrunk for the first time in history. But the grand dame of online shops grew revenue 18 per cent year-over-year, from $5.67bn to $6.7bn. And profits jumped nine per cent, from $207 to $225m.

During a conference call with reporters and analysts, chief executive Jeff Bezos said the company has not noticed any customer attrition due to the melting economy. Nonetheless, Bezos and Co. were cautious in predicting performance for the current quarter, guessing that first-quarter revenues will fall somewhere between $4.525bn and $4.925bn.

In any event, Wall Street was pleased. Amazon's fourth-quarter numbers beat those of the Wall Street guessmen, and at last check, its shares were up neatly 13 per cent in after-hours trading.

Amazon chief financial officer Thomas J. Szkutak was particularly pleased with Kindle demand during the fourth quarter - but he didn't say how many people acting purchased the thing. The etailer's ebook was out of stock for much of the quarter. Rumor has it a new Kindle incarnation will arrive next month.

In North America, Amazon's overall sales jumped 18 per cent, and across the company's UK, German, Japanese, French, and Chinese sites, revenues climbed 19 per cent.

Amazon now has more than 88 million active accounts worldwide, a 16 per cent increase, and its total shopper count was up 28 per cent. ®

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