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Same Old Amazon: All Sales, No Profit

Amazon's logistics center in Pforzheim, Germany
Amazon's logistics center in Pforzheim, GermanyPhotograph by Jan-Philipp Strobel/dpa/Corbis

Here once again is the familiar Amazon paradox: The e-commerce king from Seattle has made a habit of losing money of late—in three of four quarters over the last year—yet its stock price is near an all-time high, following a 35 percent jump over the last 12 months.

Now we have a fresh example of this living, breathing corporate contradiction. Amazon just posted a healthy $17.09 billion in net sales during its third quarter, a 24 percent jump compared with the same period a year ago. But the company lost 9¢ per share. This is what amounts for good news to Amazon shareholders: Analysts had predicted sales of $16.77 billion and accurately predicted that 9¢ loss.