Amazon Is Pokey, but Nails the Numbers

Waiting, and waiting some more, for Amazon's earnings this afternoon. Plus, pulling punches with Net execs.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- With

Fed

chairman

Alan Greenspan's

Congressional

testimony tomorrow and

yesterday's selloff fresh in traders' memories, a cautious outlook seemed appropriate today. But emboldened investors stepped in toward the close to lift blue-chip averages modestly higher and leave tech gauges with decent gains. (For more, see today's

Market Roundup).

Old Man River

Though it fell smack-dab in the middle of the afternoon on the West Coast, some New York-based traders were none-too-pleased at having to wait until around 5:45 p.m. for

Amazon.com's

(AMZN) - Get Report

second-quarter results.

"Where is Amazon.com?" one trader queried before the release. "If this ain't a good number, they got a PR disaster on their hands."

A spokeswoman at the firm said: "We report after the market closes. We're in Seattle."

Replying that I was well aware of that, I asked again if there was any explanation for the later-than-normal release. She promised to have "somebody" get back to me.

"We had an internal email slowdown and had to go through the approval process manually," Bill Curry, director of PR at Amazon.com called to say, noting there were three press releases tonight. "I have no indication from the conference call that it complicated life for anyone, although I imagine it put a few reporters under deadline pressure."

Anyway

, Amazon.com reported a loss of 51 cents a share, in line with expectations. The stock was down 3 7/16 to 122 in after-hours trading,

Reuters

reported.

Amazon.com also announced a 2-for-1 split which caused Ronny Craft, CEO of

Gotham Capital Management

, to quip: "I guess I'm short twice as much stock now."

Yesterday, you'll recall, Kraft revealed shorting the online bookseller's stock last week at 134.

The split is a "tell," the hedge fund manager said. "A stock split is like candy, and when do you give candy? When you're giving them something bitter."

Kraft was amazed Amazon.com "hit exactly" both the consensus EPS number and (at $314 million) the revenue expectations. "How do they do it?" he asked. "The kitchen is amazing. I fully expect

Greenspan

tomorrow to talk about how undervalued Amazon is."

Meanwhile, a reader emailed to ask about Kraft's track record. As it's a hedge, I can't confirm this, but Kraft said the fund is up over 40% year-to-date and over 200% in the past three years.

Furthermore, he's still convinced the market's best days have passed, short-term at least.

"I don't think the bears have a victory yet, but there was no movement in the markets today to refute yesterday," he said. "I saw a lot of short-covering, mainly in

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

, not pure buying."

TSC Special

Speaking of pure, senior writer

Suzanne Kapner's

scoop-filled

Amazon Eyes the Wilds of Main Street gets the no-doubt-about-it nod as today's special. This is "Kap's" second win, putting her in a tie for the "TSC Specialist of the Year" contest along with

Jesse "Don't Call Me Lance" Eisinger

, who reportedly wasn't complaining about sharing the yellow jersey with the divine Ms. K.

Survey Says

Caught a late-night rerun of "Moneyline" on

CNNfn

last night, tuning in just as Stuart Varney was beginning an interview with Tom Jermoluk, chairman of

Excite@Home

(ATHM) - Get Report

.

Here's a quick review, made much easier by the

transcript.

(Like Varney's

bio, I had to get the transcript at

CNN.com

, which is akin to having to go to

NBC.com

to find

CNBC

stuff. Meanwhile, I found a bio for

Lou Dobbs

while I was first poking around

CNNfn.com

. It's time to move on, folks.)

Varney started off with a quick description of Excite@Home and asked Jermoluk for confirmation.

"Uh-oh," I thought, "lightweight alert."

But the softball beautifully paved the way for his followup: "You haven't made any money yet, have you?"

Jermoluk blanched: "No, no we haven't."

Varney parried: "Can you give us a timetable when you will turn a profit?"

Recovering from the initial blow, Jermoluk reiterated the company's goal of being profitable in the fourth quarter of this year. "And we're right on track for it."

Thereafter, the CEO was in command. At one point, Jermoluk gave one of those rapid-fire responses that give anchors no chance to interrupt and are the wet dreams of CEO "handlers" and PR folks (

they

are a sick bunch).

When Jermoluk finished, Varney was clearly flustered, asking: "Am I right in saying that you use your stock as currency" for acquisitions?

"Absolutely, yes," came the reply.

"How do you get your stock up in the absence of profits, or do I not understand the new economy?" the anchor continued.

Game, set, match.

Then Varney pitched to

Willow Bay, who -- according to her available-at-

CNNfn.com

bio -- graduated

cum laude

from

U. Penn

and has a master's from

NYU's Stern School of Business

.

Impressive credentials. Still, I can't help think of her as the former model who played

Ahmad Rashad's willing foil on

NBA Inside Stuff

.

Bay began her interview with

USA Networks

(USAI) - Get Report

CEO Barry Diller by asking if he's "building a media company or a retail company."

Diller responded by talking about building "a thread" between the "standard" media properties and

Home Shopping Network

with "direct selling" being the link.

"We think that over time, selling things directly to people, which the Internet really enhances the ability to do that, is going to lead backwards to supporting, so to speak, old media," Diller said.

Huh?

Bay responded with a legit question about whether "traditional media companies" can succeed online.

"I think that -- sure, of course they can. I mean, anybody can," Diller replied. "But you have to -- you have to be comfortable...The thing is about the Internet, if you're going to succeed in it, it means you have to be comfortable inside its properties. That's uncomfortable depending on where you come from."

(For the record: I'm from Parsippany, N.J. and feel very much at home online.)

Bay concluded the interview with some "personal" questions, asking Diller to reflect on his success. Then it hit me: She could be the financial

Barbara Walters

! No sin in that and maybe it'd fill a void we didn't even know existed.

I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy now ... though it could be the scotch.

And Finally

I'm 99% sure the hateful music

NBC's

"family" is using for the "American Tragedy" coverage is in D-minor, which of course makes people weep ... instantly.

Aaron L. Task writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at

taskmaster@thestreet.com.