Earnings Roundup: Amazon, Qwest, Banyan



Amazon.com continued its familiar pattern in its third-quarter financial results, yesterday posting a big loss on sales that more than doubled from a year earlier. Although the loss was less than analysts' consensus forecasts, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos warned that the company's expansion into toys and other new categories will squeeze profit margins in the fourth quarter.

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, Amazon reported a loss of $85.8 million, or 26 cents per share, on revenue that jumped 132% to $355.8 million. The loss was 2 cents per share less than Wall Street's consensus, but considerably more than a year-earlier loss of $24.5 million, or 8 cents per share.

In a conference call with analysts, Bezos said the company's fourth-quarter holiday shopping blitz will boost operating expenses because of a higher marketing budget and the hiring of temporary help. The company's flagship book division is on track to finally turn a profit in the quarter--but books now represent less than half of Amazon's total sales.

In other earnings news, Banyan Worldwide fell back into the red during its third quarter, as its rapidly growing services business failed to compensate for sharply lower software sales. The company lost $985,000 on sales of $19 million during the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with net income of $681,000 on revenue of $18.9 million during the third quarter of 1998.

Qwest Communications International Inc. yesterday reported for the first time $1 billion in quarterly sales. The Denver-based carrier posted $1.02 billion in revenue for the third quarter, up 26% from $807.1 million for the same period last year. The company posted net earnings of $19.8 million before nonrecurring charges, compared with a $6.9 million loss for the same quarter last year. Including merger-related costs, Qwest posted a net loss of $1.8 billion.

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