Amazon.com ( AMZN) is back under the microscope. Only two weeks ago, the online retailer made its critics eat crow with a first-ever
quarterly profit. The fourth quarter's milestone triumph was only sweetened by a solid rebound in Amazon's closely watched core U.S. books, music and videos business, which had stumbled badly in the third quarter. But now some people on Wall Street are asking just how Seattle-based Amazon was able to revive the books-music-video business so quickly during an economic slowdown. Judging by regulatory filings and earnings reports, it appears that books-music-video numbers may have benefited from a shift in which Amazon reports revenue from its partnership with Borders.com, the online retail site for Borders ( BGP) now co-branded with Amazon.com. Moreover, it appears that many analysts and investors weren't aware of the change. "If you include Borders, it certainly is not looking quite as well as otherwise," says Dan Geiman, an analyst at McAdams Wright Ragen. "That's certainly interesting to me. My understanding was that they booked that under third-party services." (Geiman has a moderate buy rating on Amazon, and his firm doesn't have a banking relationship with the company.) published report that rekindled investor worries about Amazon's cash position, an issue that dogged the company for much of 2001. All this highlights Wall Street's nervousness over accounting practices as it watches the Enron scandal unfold. And Amazon, which has been plagued in the past by controversy over how it " spins" its finances to investors, likely will remain under a watchful eye.