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Amazon posts slim profit without Santa's help

Foreign cash puts store in black's overseas operations did their part in the third quarter, helping the company to its first ever quarterly profit not aided by holiday sales.

Amazon posted $1.13 billion in net sales for the period ended Sept. 30. This is a 33 percent increase over the $851 million posted in the same quarter a year ago. The sales were bolstered by a $29 million infusion from favorable exchange rates compared with the third quarter of 2002.

Amazon reported $16 million in net income for the third quarter compared to a $35 million loss a year ago. Amazon typically only reaches profitability in the fourth quarter when the holiday season gives a huge boost to sales.

The company's CEO was not shy about seeding the market for the upcoming quarter.

"Thanks to free shipping and low prices, we expect more customers to turn to us for their holiday gifting needs this year--producing our biggest holiday shopping season ever," said Jeff Bezos, CEO at Amazon.

North America helped out in the quarter, as sales rose 21 percent to $709 million. But it was the international stores that really came on strong. the U.K., German, French and Japanese sites grew 61 percent to account for $425 million in sales.

For the fourth quarter, Amazon is looking for sales of between $1.76 billion and $1.91 billion. This works out to between 23 percent and 24 percent growth for the company compared to last year's Q4. ®

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