eBay Reports Better Than Expected Revenues for Holiday Quarter

EBay, the e-commerce and digital payments giant, exceeded expectations in the fourth quarter with revenues totaling $3.4 billion, or 35 percent higher than the year-ago period.

The results beat both the company’s own revenue forecast of $3.35 billion and analysts’ estimates of $3.32 billion.

In after-hours trading, the company’s stock was up 66 cents, or 2.2 percent, to trade at $31 a share.

The rebound is perhaps a relief since the company’s stock had been trading somewhat lower since it announced earlier this month that Scott Thompson, the president of PayPal, was leaving the company to become the CEO of Yahoo.

The company’s earnings also exceeded expectations. Its non-GAAP earnings of 60 cents a share, which excludes some non-cash items, beat analysts’ expectations of 57 cents a share. Internally, the company had forecast non-GAAP earnings between 55 and 58 cents a share.

On a GAAP basis, the company reported $2 billion, or $1.51 a share, in the fourth quarter, bolstered by a gain on the sale of the company’s investment in Skype.

Retailers during the holiday quarter can often report mixed results, depending on consumer demand during the business shopping season. EBay’s results are perhaps a good signal for the overall market since it is one of the first e-commerce providers to report year-end results.

Amazon, the e-commerce leader, will report Q4 results on Jan. 31.

For the full-year, eBay said revenue increased 27 percent to $11.7 billion and net income totaled $3.2 billion, up 79 percent over the prior year.

PayPal, one of eBay’s fastest-growing businesses, also reported a strong quarter.

The payments division said revenues in Q4 totaled $1.2 billion, up 28 percent from the year-ago period. A lot of that was driven by new accounts and the adoption of mobile payments.

As previously announced, the company said its mobile payment volume reached $4 billion in 2011, more than five times the mobile payment volume in the prior year. It also said that it added one million new accounts on average each month of the year.

EBay said its forecast for the first quarter will not be as robust, which typically happens as spending levels go back to normal. It expects revenues of up to $3.15 billion, with non-GAAP earnings per share of up to 51 cents a share.

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