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Amazon reports $17.09 billion in sales for Q3, meets expectations

The online retailer reports a 24 percent increase in sales from last year, coupled with a $41 million loss.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
James Martin/CNET

Amazon just barely beat Wall Street's expectations Thursday when it reported a loss of $41 million, or 9 cents-per-share, in the third quarter and net sales of $17.09 billion. (see PDF below.)

Analysts were expecting a 9 cent-per-share loss on $16.76 billion in revenue for the quarter. The net sales figure is a 24 percent increase from last year.

The online retailer's stock hit $332.21 a share at the close of the market on Thursday, and the price went up more than 4 percent in after-hours trading immediately following its earnings report. Amazon is scheduled to discuss these results during a call at 2 p.m. PT.

The results meet the company's own expectations from earlier this year. In the second quarter, Amazon said it anticipated third-quarter revenue between $15.45 billion and $17.15 billion.

For its next quarterly report, Amazon expects net sales between $23.5 billion and $26.5 billion. The end of the year is always a big quarter for the e-commerce company due to the holiday season. To man the holiday rush, Amazon said it was hiring 70,000 seasonal employees, up 40 percent from last year.

Thursday's results are a contrast from last year. When Amazon reported a startling $274 million loss last year, shares fell by 5 percent in after-hours trading. Despite a short-lived hit, the company's stock recovered and continued to increase over the last year, growing by more than 40 percent since October 2012.

The company has continually convinced investors that it's a good bet in the long run despite its quarterly losses and penchant for frequently spending money on new initiatives and expanding the reach of its fulfillment centers.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reiterated the company's many endeavors in a press release regarding the earnings. "It's been a busy few months," he said in the statement before highlighting Amazon's latest announcements, including the launch of Mayday, the customer service feature on the new Kindle Fire HDX.

"Average Mayday response times are just 11 seconds," he boasted before diving into a long list of endeavors, including AWS's contract with the CIA, new fulfillment center launches, Amazon Art, the launch of nine new original TV pilots and the acquisition of education service TenMarks.

While venturing into other areas on the fringes of online retail, Amazon has also garnered a loyal following through its Amazon Prime membership program. The company has long focused on offering free shipping on bundled orders, which encourages customers to buy more in one transaction. Just this week, it raised the minimum limiton these type of purchases from $25 to $35, which indicates a confidence that its customers are willing to send more per transaction.

Amazon Q3 2013 Financial Results.pdf

Updated, 1:35 p.m. PT: Added CEO Jeff Bezos' statement.