Online retailer Amazon has announced its first ever full-year profit.
Amazon moves into the black
The American giant of internet trading made a net profit of $35.3m in 2003, compared to a loss of $149.1m in 2002.
Its fourth quarter figure, including the key festive period, came in even higher, with a net profit of $73.2m for the three months until 31 December.
Annual sales for 2003 were $5.264bn, an increase of more than a third on 2002, while fourth quarter sales were again up even more - 36% on 2002 to $1.95bn.
Much of this growth was fuelled by the company's operations outside America.
Across its international sections - representing its UK, German, French and Japanese websites - Amazon saw sales leap by 74% to $804m in the fourth quarter of 2003, aided by the lower value of the dollar compared to the same period in 2002.
Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of the Seattle-based company, thanked lower prices and an increasing product range for the global increases in both sales and profits.
"Our commitment to year round free shipping and lower prices continues to be a win-win for our customers and Amazon," he said.
Although Amazon does not give out specific financial information for its UK operation - amazon.co.uk, it said Christmas 2003 was its busiest ever in Britain.
Amazon.co.uk's managing director Robin Terrell said the company was delighted with its latest results.
"The growth in sales has been spectacular," he said.
"With more and more people now choosing to shop over the internet, we are determined to offer them what they want."
Mr Terrell added: "We are continuing to increase the range of products we sell, and at the lowest possible prices."