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Wednesday, April 28, 1999 Published at 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK

Business: The Company File

Amazon loss widens

Amazon's customers rose by 2.2 million

Internet giant's losses more than tripled but its sales continued to soar during the first three months of the year.

Its total number of customers rose by 2.2 million to stand at 8.4 million. That is now nearly four times the level it stood at a year ago.

Seattle-based Amazon reported a loss of $36.4m, or 23 cents per share, compared to $10.4m for the same three months in 1998.

However the loss was less than had been predicted by analysts., founded in 1995, has yet to make a profit, but spends heavily on marketing, advertising and increasing the range of goods it offers.

Repeat customers

It is the Internet's top seller of books, music and video and in recent months it has expanded into auctions, greeting cards and has invested in the online pharmacy and petstore

This revenue figure exceeded the $253m reported in the seasonally strong December quarter.

More than two thirds of orders in the quarter came from repeat customers, the company said.

The results were issued after the close of Nasdaq trading, where Amazon had fallen $13 to close at $193 a share.

Greg Blatnik, analyst with Zona Research, said: "The growth curve is here but Amazon kind of needs to show some profitability.

"They're approaching the land of profits here but it's not in this announcement.

"We've had a lot of acquisitions that have gone into building this company over the last 12 months and even in the last week or so.

"Still there is a kind of single ambition - tight customer relationships. This is the driving force behind the acquisitions and the goal of the company.

"From his statements, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos shows he's trying to follow this path. Amazon sees itself as providing a path for not just books but all kinds of personalized information, very tailored to the individual and expanding to many other products and services."

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