An e-tailer never sleeps -- especially, it seems, if its name is (NASDAQ:AMZN). In posting a blowout second quarter, Amazon distanced itself from more traditional retailers that tend to be fiscally absent beyond the holiday selling season.

Net sales rose by 35% to hit $2.89 billion, while earnings soared 257% higher to $0.19 per share. The results punched in well ahead of analyst expectations of a $0.16 per share profit on $2.8 billion in net sales. Investors celebrated today, sending shares of Amazon up nearly 25%. The company's $16.93 gain today made it a daybagger for Motley Fool Stock Advisor subscribers, where Amazon was originally recommended at $15.31 back in the October 2002 issue.

The company's non-media categories -- particularly consumer electronics -- were the speedsters. With $700 million the company generated in free cash flow, it's hard to fathom a time when bears figured that Amazon would choke on its debt before it became a consistent creator of wealth.

Amazon isn't like most retailers. It also isn't like most e-tailers. How many Web-based merchants do you know that are growing more quickly in North America than overseas? A few, perhaps, but how many of those can make that claim with just 45% of their business coming outside North America? And with international markets still combining to produce higher operating margins and absolute operating profit than their stateside efforts?

Perhaps the most impressive thing in Amazon's report is that after a brief first-quarter lull, revenue growth is accelerating again.


Year-Over-Year Sales Growth

Q1 2006


Q2 2006


Q3 2006


Q4 2006


Q1 2007


Q2 2007


The trend may continue in the current quarter, with Amazon looking for net sales growth of 30% to 38%. Scholastic's (NASDAQ:SCHL) final Harry Potter book will obviously help -- the company has sold 2.2 million copies -- though Amazon is still looking to grow its top line by 29% to 34% for 2007 as a whole.

Smaller online retailers such as RedEnvelope (NASDAQ:REDE), (NASDAQ:OSTK), and (NASDAQ:DSCM) aren't growing that quickly, and many are showing decelerating sales growth. Amazon stands alone, in part because of the success of its Amazon Prime membership program that is stirring up patron order frequency. The company's ability to market itself to third-party merchants has also made it a more relevant e-commerce hub.

Amazon's shares aren't exactly cheap, but after trouncing market expectations for four consecutive quarters now, it's hard to bet against Amazon until proven Muggle.

A look at the Best of Bezos:

Amazon has been recommended to Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter subscribers, where it has rewarded investors with a 462% gain since our October 2002 issue. Read up to learn why with a free 30-day trial subscription.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been shopping online for about as long as has been in business, but he rarely has all of the answers. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.