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Amazon Q1 Profits, Sales Surge

Seattle — After years of steady losses, posted its sixth consecutive pro forma profit on April 22, which it attributed to lowered prices, expanded selection and its limited free shipping offer.

The No. 1 pure-play e-tailer said pro forma net income, which excludes one-time charges, rose 141 percent to $97 million in the first quarter, ended March 31. Including the one-time items, net income was $111 million, compared to a net loss of $10 million in the first quarter of 2003, while operating income rose 182 percent to $110 million.

Net sales were up 41 percent over the year-ago period to $1.5 billion, which includes an $87 million benefit from changes in foreign exchange rates. Excluding the currency fluctuations, sales grew 33 percent.

North American sales, which include the company’s United States and Canadian Web sites, grew 20 percent to $847 million, while operating income grew 46 percent to $76 million.

Broken out by product segment, Amazon’s “media” category, which includes books, music, movies, magazine subscriptions, software, video game software and consoles, saw North American sales rise 16 percent to $598.7 million in the first quarter.

Its catchall “electronics” category, which includes CE, home office and everything else the company sells, grew 33 percent to $224.4 million.

The balance of North American sales was contributed by non-retail activities, including Web services and miscellaneous marketing and promotional programs.