Amazon Q3: sales up 24% but still at a loss

amazonAmazon grew strongly in the third quarter of 2013, reporting a total of $17.09bn sales globally which gave it a solid 7% share boost in after-hours trading on Thursday.

But despite all this, it still managed to post a $41m loss on the quarter all told. This represents the second consecutive quarter of loss and in Q4 further losses are forecast to the tune of $500m, according to some analysts.

None of this should be particularly surprising to Amazon watchers. The company continues to invest considerable sums in not just infrastructure, like warehousing and distribution, but also pet projects such as the Kindle, video-streaming services and also cloud technology.

And fear not, they’ve got plenty squirreled away. Apparently, there’s $7.7bn in cash and similar at hand if they need any help. The Amazon ain’t gonna run dry anytime soon.

The results make a stark contrast to eBay’s and that’s because eBay doesn’t meddle with the business of fulfillment or holding stock. It’s not a retailer in any sense where Amazon is. But it’s making moves that way. eBay’s purchase this week of courier marketplace Shutl brings it closer to an Amazon model. But not that close.

All eyes are now on how good a Christmas Amazon has. Q4 is the vital quarter for any retailer online or offline, and the predictions (despite the anticipated loss) look good. Gross sales of $23.5bn and $26.5bn are expect, representing a 10 – 25% increase year on year.