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Amazon Q4 Profits Fall 45%, Posts Full-Year Loss

Seattle – reported a 45 percent decline in net income, to $97 million, for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, and lost $39 million for the full year, as it continued to build distribution centers, invest in its fulfillment systems and expand its digital library.

Net sales rose 22 percent during the period, to $21.3 billion, while the cost of sales increased nearly 17 percent to $16.1 billion, fulfillment costs rose 36 percent to $2.3 billion, and technology and content expenses rocketed 56 percent to $1.3 billion.

In North America, net sales rose 23 percent to $12.2 billion and operating income increased 114 percent to $608 million.

Sales within the catchall “CE and other general merchandise” category rose 24 percent to $8.5 billion, while media sales climbed 13 percent to $2.9 billion.

In a statement, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos noted that e-books have become a multi-billion-dollar category for the company, growing 70 percent last year while physical book sales rose just 5 percent. “We’re excited and very grateful to our customers for their response to Kindle and our ever expanding ecosystem and selection,” he said.

For the full year, net sales rose 27 percent to $61 billion on a net loss of $39 million.

Kindle remained the company’s most popular product for the second year in a row in 2012, with Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire, Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle holding the top four spots on Amazon’s worldwide best seller charts at year’s end.