Online shopping giant Amazon saw its shares surge more than 17 per cent after it posted a surprise second-quarter profit, overtaking Wal-Mart as the world’s biggest retailer by market value.
The Seattle-based firm, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, saw the stock rise that allowed it to leapfrog Asda owner Wal-Mart in after hours trading following the release of its latest figures.
The jump left Amazon valued at $265 billion (£171bn), while Wal-Mart, with 11,000 stores in 65 countries, currently has a market capitalisation of $235bn (£152bn).
Amazon, which sold its first book 20 years ago last week, said net income in the second quarter to the end of June was $92bn (£59bn), as it expanded its Amazon Prime membership service and launched in Mexico.
It has turned in a loss of $126 (£81bn) in the same period a year ago, and analysts had expected the retailer to post another quarterly loss this week.
The firm began life in the mid-1990s as an online bookstore run out of founder Jeff Bezos’s Seattle garage.
However, the business has long confounded investors by rarely turning a profit.
It prefers to invest heavily in expanding its operations and launching new services, such as video streaming, TV content production and its Kindle mobile devices.
Amazon chief finance officer Brian Olsavsky said the company would continue to look for ways to keep costs in check while at the same time investing in “things that we think are big and important.”
The business added that it expected sales in the third quarter to be between $23.3 bn (£15.1bn) and $25.5bn (£16.5bn), growing between 13 and 24 per cent compared with the same period a year ago.
Last month it fuelled further anger over its tax affairs as it emerged the UK arm paid just £11.9m in tax last year, despite the group taking £5.3bn in sales from British shoppers.