January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Amazon Stock Soars on Forecast of Narrowing Losses

Wall Street rewarded Amazon.com for its assurances that the company is on a path to profitability, raising the Web superstore's share price 18% in trading early Thursday. Though Amazon posted its worst loss to date on Wednesday, it also reported record revenues and announced that losses should narrow significantly by year's end.

The Internet giant lost $185 million, or 55 cents per share, on sales of $676 million during the fourth quarter of 1999. CEO Jeff Bezos says the company's overall operating loss will decrease later this year, dropping from 27% of sales in the last quarter of 1999 to the single-digits by the fourth-quarter of 2000. The e-retailer's U.S. book division is already profitable, but it accounts for less than half of total revenue.

In recent days, the company has entered new and potentially lucrative alliances with Drugstore.com and Living.com. Analysts say these deals could mean $100 million or more in additional revenue.

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