Amazon loses less as sales keep surging

Amazon.com continued to lose money during its third quarter, although considerably less than a year ago, as its sales advanced 24% to more than $17 billion.

After the market closed on Thursday, Amazon reported a net loss of $41 million, or nine cents a share, during the quarter ended September 30, versus a net loss the prior year of $274 million, or 60 cents a share. The reduced loss coupled with sales of $17. 1 billion which exceeded analysts’ estimate of $16.8 billion caused shares to surge in after hours trading.

Sales in North America were especially strong, advancing 30.6% to $10.3 billion from $7.9 billion.

“It’s been a busy few months,” said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. “We launched a new Paperwhite and new Kindle Fires to positive reviews and surprised people with the revolutionary Mayday button. Average Mayday response times are just 11 seconds.”

He went on to add that in the last 90 days, “our (Amazon Web Services) team got back to work on a big government contract, we brought eight million square feet of fulfillment center capacity online, deployed 1,382 Kiva robots in three (fulfillment centers), provided a new venue for artists to reach customers, signed up millions of new Prime members, announced Kindle MatchBook, Login & Pay, and nine new original TV pilots, joined the Code.org coalition, acquired TenMarks - a company that helps kids with math, scored a win for customers who want to use Kindles on airplanes even during takeoff and landing, began hiring and training 70,000 new U.S. (fulfillment center) employees to help serve customers this holiday season, and saw the Kindle Million Club grow to include 14 KDP authors.”

The company also noted that its operating cash flow increased 48% to $4.98 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $3.37 billion for the trailing twelve months ended September 30, 2012. However, it said free cash flow decreased 63% to $388 million for the trailing twelve months, compared with $1.06 billion for the trailing twelve months ended September 30, 2012.

For the fourth quarter, Amazon projected revenues in the range of $23.5 billion to $26.5 billion, a range that encompasses analysts’ forecast of $25.9 billion.