This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, October 23, 2001.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Amazon .com releasing third-quarter earnings just minutes ago. The man who runs that company is now with us, Jeff Bezos, the chairman and CEO of Amazon.com. Jeff, good to see you.
JEFF BEZOS, CHAIRMAN & CEO, AMAZON.COM: Hi, Neil.
CAVUTO: These numbers kind of come in-line. Revenues were flat, but basically everything was in-line. Are you still en route for a profitable fourth quarter?
BEZOS: I think that's probably the big news here, is that we are — still never any guarantees, as we've been saying all along — but we are still on track for fourth-quarter pro forma operating profitability. We're really looking forward to what will be our seventh holiday season at Amazon.com. We're more ready to serve customers than ever. We've lowered prices.
Neil, on books over $20, it's now 30 percent off, which is really significant dollar savings, and people should be buying their books that way.
CAVUTO: So you can get Bill O'Reilly's book at a discount.
CAVUTO: Let me ask you this, though. In a perverse sense, as all the heightened fear over September 11th prompted more people to do their shopping online, in a weird way you benefit directly.
BEZOS: Well, we don't know. We certainly have recently seen strong order trends. But I think it's very difficult to speculate on how people will and are responding.
CAVUTO: So by that you mean the likelihood, even though most expect retail sales to be down — and a lot of people judge you by the retail standard, fair or not — that in a weird way, this heightened angst, people afraid of the malls, or just bummed out going to the malls, that they might in fact do more from home.
BEZOS: Well, I think it's a possibility. I think it's very hard to know.
Certainly, you know, this time of year, historically, we have seen a trend for the last six years that people more and more do that, not because they're worried about any kind of safety issue, but more because they just don't want the hassle of the parking and the crowds, and so on and so on that we're all very familiar with inside retail stores, you know, come the holidays.
CAVUTO: When you look now at this fourth quarter now, you say profitability. A lot of purists on Wall Street say it's nowhere near profitability. Pro forma, you might be a good way to look at it as a catch-all. But in reality, even then you won't be making money. What do you say to that?
BEZOS: Well, I say it's an important first step, and we will set an equally ambitious goal for 2002.
CAVUTO: OK. So what does that mean?
BEZOS: It means that, you know, while this is not the end-all and the be-all to have a pro forma operating profit in Q4, which is our seasonally heaviest quarter and so on, that it's an important first step. It's something that we have to do. It's something that we set ourselves the goal of doing a year ago. We're incredibly pleased that we're now in position to do it even though there's still no guarantees.
And over the next few months, we'll be figuring out what goal we're going to set for ourselves next year.
CAVUTO: You know, let's talk a little bit about the landscape for retailing in general. There was the September 11th phenomena where everything froze. I guess what I'm asking you now is post that, as far as the sentiment of buyers, what are you noticing?
BEZOS: Well, were seeing over the last couple of weeks actually very pleasing order trends in a lot of different categories.
CAVUTO: Where mostly?
BEZOS: Well, one of the categories that's been doing especially well recently because of some very big releases, is DVDs. You know, you have, The Godfather. We're taking preorders for Shrek. You know, Phantom Menace: Episode I has come out. A lot of very big titles driving very strong sales there.
This holiday season, we're expecting very strong videogame sales. I think a lot of people are. So there are a lot of new products coming out, a lot of things that are going to drive consumer interest.
CAVUTO: So you argue that whatever this recession talk was going on and that things — we were going to be in hell for a while here, you're saying the worst might be behind us? I'm talking generally, beyond just Amazon.
BEZOS: Sure. You know, I honestly think it's way too early to know that, Neil. I don't think any company knows that. I think there's a certain degree here we're just going to have to wait and see. Certainly, it clearly remains an uncertain economic environment.
CAVUTO: You always remain an upbeat guy, so you're never depressed, are you?
BEZOS: I am an upbeat guy, Neil, you're right. My wife says, if I'm upset, wait three minutes.
CAVUTO: OK, Jeff Bezos, the head of Amazon.com. Thank you, sir.
BEZOS: Thank you, Neil.
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