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AMZN Amazon Stocks Soar

AMZN Amazon Stocks SoarOnline-retail giant Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) reported brisk second-quarter earnings today, posting profits of 37 cents per share, a $158 million windfall that more than doubled from the same time last year.

With sales of $4.06 billion, up 41 percent from the year-earlier period, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) came in at the high end of its own guidance and beat the Wall Street consensus of $3.96 billion, according to analyst polling by Thomson Reuters.

Amazon's robust numbers buck the trend of a weakening economic climate that has hurt retailers across the board. Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, continues to expand, announcing plans to open two new fulfillment centers during the quarter.

In announcing the numbers, CEO Jeff Bezos suggested that his company was better positioned to weather the economic storm than its brick-and-mortar counterparts.

"Customers continue to take advantage of our low prices, free shipping and Amazon Prime," Bezos said in a statement. "Amazon Prime membership costs less than a tank of gas -- more and more customers are joining the program and enjoying its benefits."

Amazon continued to aggressively promote its Kindle e-book reader in the second quarter. The company does not provide sales figures for the device, but it boasted that it has now made more than 140,000 titles available for the Kindle.

During the second quarter, Amazon mounted a legal challenge to a controversial law that took effect in New York has joined Amazon's suit against New York State.

But Amazon's tax troubles might not end there. Through nominal subsidiaries, Amazon runs fulfillment centers and call centers in about a dozen states, but only collects sales taxes in four. One of those states -- Texas -- is undertaking a review of Amazon's tax responsibilities, and Arizona is considering a change to its tax laws that could impose a collection requirement on the online retailer.

Also during the quarter, Amazon continued to build its cloud computing business. The company said that more than 30,000 developers signed up for Amazon Web Services, bringing the total number to more than 400,000.

Amazon offered Q3 guidance of between $4.2 billion and $4.425 billion, an increase of between 29 percent and 36 percent over the third quarter of 2007.

Amazon raised slightly its full-year guidance to between $19.35 billion and $20.1 billion.

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