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Amazon exceeds earnings expectations as head count tops a half-million

Matt Day, The Seattle Times on

Published in Science & Technology News

SEATTLE -- Amazon cruised past investor expectations for its quarterly earnings, posting another quarter of breakneck growth and announcing that the company topped 500,000 employees for the first time.

The online retailer pulled in a record $43.7 billion during the three months ended in September, up 34 percent from a year ago and narrowly surpassing Amazon's holiday-season quarter last year. Third-quarter net income was $252 million, or 52 cents a share, slightly higher than the same quarter of 2016.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected adjusted earnings of 3 cents a share on revenue of $42.1 billion.

Amazon's stock surged more than 6 percent in after-hours trading after the earnings report, popping back above the $1,000-a-share mark first breached earlier this summer. The company's shares had closed regular trading down slightly, at $972.43.

The report revealed yet another milestone in the company's ascension: Amazon employed 541,900 people at the end of September, jumping past the half-million mark after scooping up Whole Foods Market's 87,000 employees during the quarter, and amid an ongoing hiring binge in its warehouse and logistics unit.

The quarter included $1.3 billion in sales at Whole Foods stores. Amazon closed the $13.5 billion deal to acquire the organic retailer on Aug. 28.

Among U.S.-based employers, Amazon now trails only Wal-Mart and its 2.3 million employees.

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