Incorporated as “Cadabra” in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, the company went online the following year as amazon.com. It started as an online bookstore but soon diversified into DVDs, CDs, MP3 downloads, software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys, and jewellery. Apart from online retailing, Amazon also produces consumer electronics, notably the Amazon Kindle e-book reader and the Kindle Fire tablet computer, and provides cloud computing services.
Amazon and Mattel profits miss forecasts
Amazon.com, Mattel and MasterCard posted fourth-quarter earnings that missed analysts' estimates, trimming the ratio of S&P 500 Index earnings that have exceeded projections this reporting season to 79 per cent.
With about half of the index already having announced results, the fourth quarter was still on pace to exceed the 75 per cent rate achieved in the third quarter, data showed.
While Amazon and MasterCard were hurt by rising costs, Google topped estimates as retailers spent more on advertising during the holidays.
The results capped a week marked by higher-than-expected earnings from Pfizer, Ford Motor and Facebook amid signs of improvements in the US economy.
Still, disappointing forecasts from planemaker Boeing and EMC last week, combined with a slump in emerging-market currencies, rattled investors looking for reassurance that profit growth would continue to accelerate.
Economic data released last week showed consumer spending in the United States climbed more than forecast in December even as incomes stagnated, a sign that the economy needed to generate bigger gains in employment to boost the expansion.
The increase in consumer spending "is a good sign for sustaining economic growth", said Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia. "Job creation will have to accelerate to sustain the current level of spending."
Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, reported on Thursday that operating costs rose 20 per cent, while sales for the holiday quarter grew the slowest since 2008.
Mattel was hit by a drop in Barbie sales, and MasterCard, the New York-based payments network, increased spending on rebates and incentives tied to signing deals with card issuers.