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Shares of Amazon slide further amid skepticism

Shares of the online retailer end the day down almost 8 percent after analysts issue skeptical reports on the profitless company.

Shares of online retailer Amazon.com fell further as the trading day progressed after analysts at the company's annual investment conference issued skeptical reports on the profitless company.

Shares of the Seattle-based company ended the regular trading session down $3.25, or almost 8 percent, to $37.50. The stock has traded as high as $113 this year and as low as $27.87.

At the company's annual investor conference, held yesterday in Reno, Nev., Amazon executives emphasized their plan to reach profitability by taking advantage of existing assets and cutting back on growth and costs, including marketing.

"The company clearly spent aggressively in 1999 not only building out the distribution network, but also outspending everyone in the space on marketing," wrote Banc of America Securities analyst Tom Courtney. "With its dominant position established, management now begins to look to drive profitability and leverage its investments."

The company laid out its specific goal to grow sales by over 50 percent while at the same time lowering costs by 30 percent.

Despite these positive forecasts, Lehman Brothers analyst Holly Becker reiterated a "neutral" rating on the company, stating in her research note that Amazon offered little in the way of new news.

"With recent management instability and a less than stellar track record of delivering on its profit goals, we remain cautious," Becker wrote. "We continue to believe that Amazon has its work cut out for it."

Robertson Stephens analyst Lauren Cooks Levitan said in her report that even if the company achieves its operating targets in the fourth quarter, investors "could still be unsatisfied given the likelihood that it could take at least one more year to achieve profitability."

Levitan called Amazon's increased focus on profits and specifics "long overdue" and said it may be "too little, too late in the near term."

Not all analysts were as critical, as several reiterated their ratings on the shares. Merrill Lynch's Henry Blodget, for example, reiterated his "accumulate" rating on the stock and emphasized its future prospects.

"We came away from the meeting with the same sense we usually do: that Amazon has enough going for it that, for long-term investors, it is probably a mistake to miss the forest for the trees," Blodget wrote in his report. "E-commerce will likely represent a major opportunity over the next decade and Amazon is the undisputed worldwide leader."

Chase Hambrecht & Quist and J.P. Morgan reiterated "buy" ratings on Amazon. Robertson Stephens reiterated a "long-term attractive" rating, and Goldman Sachs reiterated a "trading buy."