■ WEB RETAIL
Amazon's profits surge
Web retailer Amazon.com Inc said on Tuesday its first-quarter profit more than doubled, sending shares up more than 12 percent in after-hours trading. The company also raised its revenue outlook for the year. Earnings for the first three months of the year rose to US$111 million, or US$0.26 per share, from US$51 million, or US$0.12 per share, during the same period last year. Revenue rose 32 percent to US$3.02 billion, surpassing Wall Street's expectation of US$2.92 billion in sales. For the second quarter, Amazon.com said it expects revenue between US$2.70 billion and US$2.85 billion.
US studios win lawsuit
Six major US movie studios have won a lawsuit against a Beijing company for selling counterfeit DVDs of their films, Chinese state media reported yesterday. A Beijing court ordered Beijing Cherry Blossom Star Culture Co and an affiliated DVD shop to stop the sales and pay 195,000 yuan (US$25,000) to the studios, the official Xinhua news agency said. The US movie houses -- Warner Bros, Columbia Pictures, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney -- had asked for 2.46 million yuan in damages. The company admitted its connection to the shop but said it could not pay the requested damages.
Sharp reports record profit
Sharp Corp yesterday reported a fourth consecutive year of record profit thanks to fast-growing sales of flat-screen televisions. Sharp, Japan's largest liquid-crystal-display panel maker, said its net profit rose 14.7 percent to ¥101.72 billion (US$859 million) in the year to last month on revenue of ¥3.13 trillion, up 11.8 percent. Sales of audio-visual and communication equipment jumped 26.6 percent in value in the year and are expected to rise a further 16.6 percent this year. The company forecast a fifth record annual performance, projecting a 3.2 percent rise in net profit for the next 12 months to ¥105 billion.
■ REAL ESTATE
US home sales plummet
US home sales plummeted dramatically last month as the market endured its biggest monthly fall in more than 18 years, dashing hopes of a sales turnaround, new industry figures showed on Tuesday. The National Association of Realtors said existing US home sales sank a heavy 8.4 percent to an annualized pace of 6.12 million units last month. The drop in homes sales was the largest since January 1989 when sales dived 12.6 percent, and sales are now at their lowest ebb since June of 2003. The sharp decline, which affected most regions, came after sales rose for three straight months.
China overtakes US
Japan's trade with China excluding Hong Kong in the latest fiscal year surpassed its trade with the US for the first time, Japan said yesterday. Exports and imports between Japan and China rose to ?25.43 trillion (US$214.62 billion) for the year through last month, up 9.6 percent from the previous year. While Japan's overall trade with China including Hong Kong exceeded trade with the US as early as 2004, the new milestone reflects the economic might of China's mainland market. Japanese exports to mainland China rose 21.2 percent, while imports grew 13.0 percent.