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This isn't Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) at its best, but it should be good enough for you.
Net sales climbed 14% to $4.65 billion during the leading online retailer's latest quarter. If not for foreign currency fluctuations, that would have been a 20% surge. Earnings fell 10% to $0.32 a share, but back off, boo-birds. Amazon's bottom line was bogged down by a settlement with Toys "R" Us. Last year's quarter was also padded by a gain on the sale of its European DVD rental assets.
Since Amazon has evolved into an e-tailer of all trades, it provides a great way to take the pulse across various retailing categories.
For instance, North American media sales were essentially flat, but that's an incomplete snapshot. During last night's conference call, the company conceded that strength in book sales helped offset weakness in video-game software and consoles.
This is naturally bad news for GameStop (NYSE: GME ) , but hold the confetti if you're in the Borders Group (NYSE: BGP ) or Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS ) camps. Amazon's success with its Kindle e-book reader is making Amazon an even bigger gateway for publishers.
Amazon still isn't ready to give up actual sales data on the Kindle. CEO Jeff Bezos was surprisingly absent from the call, but he's as tight-lipped as the rest of his executives in discussing actual Kindle sales anyway.
Amazon also discussed this week's acquisition of Zappos. It sidestepped the question about whether the purchase was dilutive or accretive to earnings, but place your bets on the side of dilution in the near term. According to Amazon, Zappos posted "a small profit" on $635 million in revenue.
The Zappos deal is still a smart one for Amazon, in that it lands a premium online brand before it grows any bigger. Amazon still has the muscle to be an organic sprinter, but a few tactful acquisitions will only enhance the company's killer speed.
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