Amazon.com, the gigantic pioneer of internet book selling, reported second quarter sales of US$4.06 billion, an increase of 41% on last year's figure, and yielding a net income of $158 million. North American sales were up 25%, to $1.148 billion, while international sales were up 38% to $1.258 billion.
Full year sales may be as much as $20.1 billion, they say, so it is little wonder that in the hours of trading that followed the announcement, amazon shares rose $6.10, to $76.64.
"It's a very efficient business," observed one commentator, in a miracle of understatement.
However, the chief financial officer, Tom Szkutak, was less upbeat, pointing out that office supplies and fabrics had been added to the inventory, and electronic book downloads promoted, to entice U.S. customers grappling with declining house values and shocking prices at the pumps. Additionally, the increase in international revenue owed a lot to a favorable exchange rate.
"We don't think we're a good barometer for the economy," he said.
Jewelry, electronics, toys, shoes and baby products were among the bestselling items. Amazon is relying less on its traditional strength, which has been media products such as books, DVDs and music -- media sales accounted for just 59% of its total revenue, compared to 64% last year.
Will this trend continue? It looks likely.
So, rich booklovers (if there are any of you left out there), perhaps investment in amazon.com is not the best option right now.