Amazon.com posted a narrower quarterly loss and grew sales by a better-than-expected 24 percent on Thursday as it expanded aggressively at home and made inroads overseas, sending its shares up 8 percent.
The revenue performance indicated strong momentum of the world’s largest Internet retailer going into the crucial U.S. holiday season, which some experts say could be the slowest in years.
Amazon forecast sales of between $23.5 billion to
$26.5 billion, which analysts called conservative.
“It’ll be a somewhat difficult macro environment in the fourth quarter,” said Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy. “But it looks like the revenue momentum will continue into the fourth quarter.”
Much of that growth came from its home market, where net sales leapt 31 percent to
$10.3 billion as a faster delivery by a growing network of distribution or fulfillment centers drove customer demand, Amazon said. International sales also expanded 15 percent, up from 13 percent in the previous quarter.
Amazon is trying to turn itself from an online retailer into a broader technology company offering gadgets like tablets to consumers and cloud computing services to corporations and governments.
Net loss was $41 million in the third quarter, or $0.09 per diluted share, narrowing from a net loss of $274 million, or $0.60 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2012.
Executives said they will continue to invest in distribution abroad and on buying and creating content for the Instant Video service, which has helped drive the success of Prime, its $79-a-year, two-day shipping service that also offers free video streaming.
Amazon grew Prime members by several million in the past 90 days, executives said without elaborating.
Amazon posted revenue of $17.1 billion in the third quarter, up from $13.8 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected it to post sales of $16.8 billion on average.
Amazon’s gross profit margin — a closely watched measure of earnings that excludes several expenses — was 28.6 percent in the second quarter, one of the highest in over a decade by analysts’ reckoning.
Third-quarter profit margins came in about 27.6 percent, in line with what analysts had expected and down from the previous quarter as Amazon ramped up investments in preparations for the holidays.
Shares in the company have gained 30 percent this year. It is now valued at 131 times 2014 earnings, among the highest in the market. In after-hours trading on Thursday, Amazon shares climbed to about $360 from a close of $332.21 on the Nasdaq.