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Amazon’s holiday sales surge, while tax bill gives it a profit one-time boost

SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon late Thursday said sales surged as customers tapped and clicked their way through the holiday shopping season, though the cost of its sprawling and increasingly international business clipped profits.

Sales in the December quarter jumped 38% to $60.5 billion, slightly topping forecasts. Net income more than doubled, to $1.9 billion from $749 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, helped by a $789 million provisional tax benefit from the recently enacted federal tax bill.

Earnings per share of $3.75, or $2.15 minus the impact of the jobs bill, topped forecasts of $1.83 expected by analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ.

Amazon (AMZN) stock rose in after hours trading, up 6%. The stock has risen sharply of late, making founder Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world. It closed Thursday at $1,390, up 65% from a year ago.

For all of 2017 Amazon made $177.9 billion in sales, a 31% increase. In spite of the large growth in revenue, operating profit dropped 2% to $4.10 billion for the year.

“It’s the same story as always, revenue’s up and profits are still anemic,” said Sucharita Kodali, an Amazon analyst with Forrester Research.

For the current, March quarter, Amazon forecast sales will jump 34% to 42% from the year-ago period, while operating income will be flat to lower, at $300 million to $1 billion.

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