Amazon falls on sales miss

Shares of slid 8% in late trading yesterday after the company's sales came in below Wall Street estimates.

Amazon's fourth-quarter sales rose 17% to $2.98 billion, but analysts were expecting $3.08 billion in revenues. The company said sales were hurt by currency exchange issues.

Amazon's first-quarter sales guidance of $2.16-$2.29 billion left room to disappoint $2.26 billion estimates.

The online retailing giant earned 47 cents a share in the fourth quarter, helped by a $38 million tax benefit. It is not clear how the number compared to Wall Street's expectations of 21-cent a share earnings.

Amazon Prime subscriptions doubled between November and December, as customers took advantage of free shipping for the holidays.

On the conference call, analysts expressed concern about decelerating sales, competition from the likes of eBay and Google as well as traditional retailers, and the company's continuing high rate of business investment and costs. Amazon officials expressed confidence that the company's customer service and investment level gives it a competitive edge.

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