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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Amazon shares surge after strong second quarter

Amazon has reported a second-quarter profit that took Wall Street by surprise and sent its stock soaring.

Shares of the Seattle-based e-commerce giant surged 17 percent on Thursday after the markets closed, notching a new accomplishment for Amazon: It is the world’s most valuable retailer, at least for now, with a market value higher than Wal-Mart’s.

That’s not to say that Amazon earns more — or even consistently turns a profit. Well-known for plowing its earnings back into the company, Amazon has been in the red three of the past five quarters, and Wall Street analysts, according to Reuters, expected another negative result Thursday.

Instead, Amazon reported a profit, as the company said it netted $92 million during the second quarter, which ended in June, after posting a $126 million loss over the same period last year.

“We’ve had competition for 20 years now from some of the biggest names in retail and other areas,” said Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky, according to Bloomberg. “We’re used to competition, but we focus on the customer. … We’re happy with the results.”

Amazon, whose chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post, also posted better-than-expected revenues, which grew 20 percent to $23.2 billion.

In part, that means more people are buying things on Amazon.com, as the company has added to the ranks of its Prime membership and trotted out new promotions such as last week’s Prime Day, an all-day sale of some items.

Product sales, which contribute the lion’s share of the company’s revenue, rose 12 percent, thanks mostly to growth in the United States. Overseas sales also grew, but more slowly.

Amazon also benefited from other efforts, including its server business. Its cloud-computing service posted $1.8 billion in revenue, an 81 percent increase over last year. The company says it plans to keep pushing that business, including growing it into India next year.

“It looks like they beat across every major revenue line,” Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., told Reuters. “That, along with the surprise profit beat, is icing on the cake, so to speak.”

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