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Originally published October 24, 2013 at 1:31 PM | Page modified October 24, 2013 at 7:38 PM

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Amazon posts another loss as revenue soars

Investors buoyed the stock, pushing it to all-time highs in after-hours trading, as sales numbers topped expectations.


Seattle Times business reporter

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Amazon.com’s shares soared Thursday in after-hours trading on news that the Web giant beat expected revenue even as it racked up an expected loss in the third quarter.

The rapid growth, at a time when sales at Amazon’s e-commerce rivals are more muted, helped pushed the stock into record territory. The shares climbed more than 8 percent after hours, briefly topping $360, even after the stock climbed 1.7 percent to $332.21 during regular market trading.

The company was upbeat about its continued investment in new opportunities as well as the money it has been pumping into existing businesses. Amazon continues to bet on growth at the expense of profitability.

“We’re very excited about the opportunities in front of us,” Amazon Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak said in a conference call after the results were announced. “We’re investing very heavily. We’re fortunate to have a lot of opportunities to invest in.”

The third-quarter loss hit $41 million, or 9 cents per diluted share. That compares with a net loss of $274 million, or 60 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period, which included charges related to Amazon’s investment in deal-of-the-day site LivingSocial.

Revenue jumped 24 percent to $17.09 billion in the quarter.

Analysts expected a loss of $34.7 million on revenue of $16.8 billion.

Much of the new investment came in building new warehouses. Szkutak said the company increased its warehouse count in the quarter by seven, though he said it was a net number. Amazon closed some smaller warehouse as it brought larger ones online.

All told, the company added some 8 million square feet of warehouse capacity. It continues to add space to deliver items to shoppers more quickly, even as it reduces those costs.

Amazon also continues to add to its payroll. The company now has 109,800 employees, up from 97,000 three months ago.

That’s more employees than at Microsoft, which said it has 100,518.

Microsoft, though, will take on about 32,000 Nokia employees when its acquisition of the Finnish company’s mobile and services operation closes early next year.

Szkutak also mentioned the original programming Amazon is producing for its Netflix rival, Amazon Prime Instant Video, as another business adding to expenses.

“We’re investing in video content in Prime for the United States, and you see that in the results as well,” Szkutak said.

All told, Amazon’s operating expenses reached $17.12 billion in the quarter, just a smidgen larger than the $17.09 billion the company rang up in net sales.

The news release announcing results is often a recitation of previously announced highlights from the quarter.

But in the statement, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos highlighted the deployment of 1,382 Kiva robots the company is using in three of its warehouses to pick items to be shipped.

Amazon bought Kiva Systems a year and a half ago to better automate its warehouse operations. But it’s been opaque about when or how the robots would be used.

Szkutak shed little light on the plans for Kiva beyond the news release. “We think it’s an interesting opportunity,” he said. “We’ll have to stay tuned to see what that means” in terms of productivity.

Szkutak offered a bit of insight into Amazon’s decision earlier in the week to increase the minimum order price to get free shipping in the United States by $10 to $35.

He noted that in the 10 years since the previous increase, fuel and transportation costs have climbed, and the company’s selection of products has grown by millions of items.

“We just thought it was the right thing to do,” Szkutak said.

Jay Greene: 206-464-2231 or jgreene@seattletimes.com. Twitter: iamjaygreene



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