Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Report, a bellwether of commerce over the Internet, reported a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss Wednesday and said revenue nearly doubled.

Seattle-based Amazon posted a loss of 35 cents per share, or $122 million, vs. 12 cents, or $36 million, in the year-ago period. Analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

had projected a loss of 36 cents per share.

The company added 3.1 million new customers and reported first-quarter sales of $574 million vs. $294 million a year ago. The revenue numbers for the quarter were roughly in line with Wall Street estimates.

"Our platform has allowed us to expand the products and services we offer customers and demonstrate operating leverage in our results at the same time,'' said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO, in a statement. "We expect that the rest of the year will yield a similar balance of global growth and expansion while driving toward profitability in every business.''

Pro forma operating loss in the first quarter of 2000 was $99 million, compared to a pro forma operating loss of $31 million in the first quarter of 1999.

The earnings results were released after the stock market closed. Amazon shares were down 1/2 to 53 in after-hours trading, according to

Instinet

.