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Tech Industry

Amazon.com cranks it up

The giant online retailer beats analysts' expectations on strong music sales, despite posting a third quarter loss.

Shares of Amazon.com, the giant online retailer, jumped higher in early trading today after the company beat analysts' expectations yesterday on the strength of its music sales, despite posting a third-quarter loss.

Stock in the company was up 4.11 percent to 121.88. Shares of Amazon have traded as high as $147 and as low as $22 in the past 52 weeks.

Excluding charges, Amazon posted a loss of $24.7 million on a pro forma basis, or 49 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $9.6 million, or 21 cents a share, for the like quarter a year ago.

Financial analysts expected the company to lose 57 cents a share for the quarter ended September 30, according to First Call.

Including merger- and acquisition-related charges of $20.5 million, the company would have had a net loss of $45.2 million, or 90 cents per share.

Quarterly revenue rose to $153.7 million, more than four times higher than the $37.9 million in revenue for the like quarter a year ago.

The company said its music sales totaled $14.4 million in its first full quarter since launching the music site in June.

"We are very grateful to our customers for choosing Amazon.com as their online music store so quickly," chief executive Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

Last month the company expanded the music site to include 47,000 classical and opera CDs. The giant online retailer said it added 1.2 million customer accounts during the quarter bringing its total to 4.5 million.

"Adding 1.2 million new users has got to finally convince those who questioned whether Amazon was just for the digerati, or, frankly, the online nerds, that quite clearly Amazon is reaching the mass consumer," said Lise Buyer, director at Credit Suisse First Boston.

Buyer said Amazon's operating expense controls were in line with expectations, and that the company's revenue growth is outpacing Wall Street's predictions.

Repeat customers represented more than 64 percent of all orders during the quarter.

Amazon said it is now the No. 1 music retailer. The company competes against CDnow and N2K which agreed to merge last week.

Amazon is also facing competition for online book sales. Earlier this month Barnes and Noble and German book publishers Bertelsmann AG agreed to a 50-50 joint venture in Barnesandnoble.com.

During the quarter Amazon bought Web-based calendar company PlanetAll and Junglee, an Internet-based virtual database company.

Stock in the company closed less than 1 percent higher today ahead of the earnings report at 117.0625. Shares have traded as high as 147 and as low as 22 in the past 52 weeks.

Credit Suisse's Buyer added, "In my opinion Amazon is a terrifically positioned company for the long-term, but it's not for the day traders."