Amazon Amasses First Profitable Year

A record fourth quarter powered to its first full year of profitability, the online retailer said Tuesday afternoon.

Revenues were $1.94 billion in the fourth quarter, up 36 percent from the total of $1.42 billion in the fourth quarter of 2002. About $98 million of the revenues came from favorable exchange rates. Full-year sales were $5.26 billion, up 34 percent from $3.93 billion for the full year of 2002.

Sales to the United States and Canada increased 18 percent to $1.14 billion in the fourth quarter; sales to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Japan soared 74 percent to $804 million in the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2002. Its active seller count worldwide jumped 70 percent to 600,000, with 100,000 branded merchants on Amazon sites. Amazon added more than 40,000 gourmet food products, 60,000 pieces of jewelry, and more than 70,000 health and personal care products.

More than $750.89 million in media (including books, CDs, and DVDs) was sold in the United States in the fourth quarter, compared to $648.56 million during the same period of 2002. In the electronics and general merchandise categories, $352.51 million was sold in the fourth quarter compared to $289.83 million in 2002. A total of $38.49 million in other products was sold, compared to $28.26 million sold in the fourth quarter of 2002.

Media represented 74 percent of Amazon's total sales in the fourth quarter, down 2 percentage points from the same period in 2002. Electronics and general merchandise tallied 24 percent of its sales, compared to 22 percent in 2002. The other category remained the same.

For the full-year 2003, Amazon moved $2.26 billion in media compared to $1.99 billion for 2002. Electronics and general merchandise accounted for $878.51 million in sales in 2003, compared to $681.04 million in 2002.

During an earnings conference call Tuesday evening, the Seattle-based online retailer predicted that first-quarter revenues would fall between $1.39 billion and $1.49 billion, with full-year revenues between $6.2 billion and $6.7billion.

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