NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple ( AAPL) Tablet jitters might well skew investors outlook for Amazon ( AMZN). But the e-retailer is poised to deliver yet another strong quarter when it reports after the close on Thursday. Investors, of course, are not wrong to fear that an Apple tablet, which is slated to be unveiled today, could pose a threat to Amazon's Kindle electronic reader. But while this is a possibility, the dominance of online sales during the holiday period paint an optimistic picture for Amazon's future.
Internet sales, on the whole, grew 5% to $27 billion during the period, according to comScore. And Amazon is expected to be among the biggest gainer of the holidays, even as it went head-to-head with Wal-Mart ( WMT) and Target ( TGT) over discounts. According to comScore, Amazon's traffic soared 20% year-over-year in the fourth quarter. And for the third month in a row the site has attracted more unique visitors than all of eBay's ( EBAY) sites. Of the top six retail sites, only Apple and Best Buy ( BBY) experienced as much growth, with unique visitors up 25% and 15%, respectively. Analysts are calling for earnings of 72 cents a share on revenue of $9.04 billion in the fourth quarter. And Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney believes these estimates are conservative, with more probability for an upside than downside. Indeed, Amazon was upgraded Wednesday morning to buy from hold buy Kaufman Bros. The firm expects strong fourth-quarter results, and believes the stock offers and attractive risk reward after falling about 15% since mid-December.