Amazon shares higher on earnings optimism

Investors are anticipating that the retail giant will beat expectations when it releases results next week.

Amazon.com shares were trading up about 7 percent on optimism that the largest Internet retailer will beat estimates when it reports first- quarter results next week.

Amazon rose 14.0625 to 204.125 in midday trading. It was the first time the shares crossed 200 since the stock split 3 for 1 on January 4.

"People feel fairly confident that the company will exceed expectations'' when it reports on Wednesday, said Derek Brown, an analyst with Volpe Brown Whelan, who rates the shares "buy.''

Amazon is expected to have a loss of 29 cents a share, the average estimate in a survey of analysts by First Call.

At the same time, Amazon is part of what could be the next wave in Internet retailing--prescription drugs online. Drugstore.com, said yesterday it has received many customers through its partnership with investor Amazon.

Drugstore.com chief executive spoke yesterday at a conference on health care and the Internet, sponsored by Bloomberg and Hambrecht & Quist.

Amazon owns a 46 percent stake in Drugstore.com. It recently said it has more than 8 million customers, which is more than many analysts expected.

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