E-tailer now deeply in black.

Amazon.com posted $346.7 million in net income, or 82 cents per diluted share, on revenues of $2.5 billion in its fourth quarter, as the company catapulted deep into black ink for 2004.

Amazon's performance during the quarter, which ended Dec. 31, represented a nearly 375% increase from the $73.1 million in net income, or 17 cents per diluted share it generated in fourth-quarter 2003, when revenues were $1.95 billion.

But part of its net income was generated by the realization of a $244 million deferred tax asset related to operating loss carried forward from the company's inception in 1994. Excluding the deferred tax asset, the Seattle-based company posted pro-forma net income of $149 million, or 35 cents per diluted share.

For the year, Amazon produced $588 million in net income, or $1.39 per diluted share, on revenues of $6.92 billion. In 2003, Amazon managed to get into black ink for the first time, when net income totaled $35 million, or 8 cents per diluted share, on revenues of $5.26 billion.

At the same time as it released its financial results, the company announced Amazon Prime, its first membership program that allows cutomers to receive unlimited express, two-day shipping for $79 a year.

Amazon stock closed today before the announcement at $41.88, down 60 cents from the previous day's finish of $42.48.