eBay’s first-quarter earnings exceed forecasts

By Brian Bergstein The Associated Press
Friday April 19, 2002

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Keeping up its blistering growth, Internet trading leader eBay Inc. reported earnings that beat Wall Street forecasts and expressed confidence about its outlook Thursday. 

With eBay’s base of registered users expanding to 46.1 million, 55 percent higher than last year, the company’s net profit more than doubled in the three-month period ending March 31. EBay earned $47.6 million, or 17 cents per share, on revenue of $245.1 million. 

In the comparable period last year, the San Jose-based company pulled in $21.1 million, or 8 cents per share, on revenue of $154.1 million. 

Excluding one-time charges, eBay earned $50.6 million, or 18 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had predicted earnings of 16 cents per share on revenue of $245.3 million. 

“We feel really good,” said Rajiv Dutta, eBay’s chief financial officer. “There’s only a handful of companies that can grow at 65 percent and increase profits against a backdrop of a tough economic environment and a down market for Internet advertising.” 

With nearly all measurements of its success on the rise, eBay now expects to earn 17 cents per share in the current quarter and 73 to 75 cents per share for the entire year. Both estimates are higher than previous guidance but in line with current Wall Street projections. 

Revenue forecasts are now $260 million to $265 million for this quarter and $1.05 billion to $1.10 billion for the year, also similar to analysts’ existing projections. 

EBay shares fell $1.89, more than 3 percent, to close at $53.04 on the Nasdaq Stock Market before the earnings report. The stock fell to $52.02 early in the extended trading session. 

EBay’s success has come from its domination of the domestic Internet auction market and the steadily improving performance of its sites tailored for users in 26 other countries. Even though eBay pulled up stakes in Japan, the company’s international revenue amounted to $53 million in the first quarter, nearly three times last year’s total. 

Dutta refused to comment on rumors that eBay is interested in acquiring PayPal Inc., the online payment service that heavily caters to eBay buyers and sellers. PayPal’s CEO said this week his company was focusing on operating as a stand-alone company.