eBay posts record profits, ups forecast

Auction action

eBay has continued to defy the downturn, posting a 91 percent increase in second quarter revenue to $509.3 million.

The on-line auctioneer and retailer said that its revenue for the April to June quarter rose to $509.3 million from $266.3 million for the same quarter last year. The firm's latest quarterly sales figure marginally exceeded its own second quarter expectations of $500 million.

eBay's gross profit was $410.1 million, or 81 percent of revenues, and the company said that its 2002 acquisition of PayPal, an e-payment services provider, contributed substantially to the rise in revenue. Excluding PayPal, the company would have posted revenue of $407.7 million.

Net income for the quarter was up 102 percent -- hitting all-time highs -- to $109.7 million, or $0.33 a share, from $54.3 million, or $0.19 a share last year.

Yet despite the incredibly strong numbers, which surpassed most forecasts, eBay's share price fell back $5 in after hours trading, with analysts noting that some investors were expecting even stronger numbers. Still, eBay shares are up a stunning 67 percent on the year after closing at $115.74 on the Nasdaq on Thursday. Reflecting the massive growth in the value of eBay stock, the company said in its results that it had approved a two-for-one split, which will be recorded on 4 August.

"Q2 was another great quarter for eBay," said Meg Whitman, president and CEO of eBay. "Our thriving community of buyers and sellers continues to spread the word the eBay is a great place to trade, build a business, make friends and have fun."

The company's transaction revenues from the US were up 45 percent from last year to $242.4 million, and just as Amazon posted a proportionately massive increase in international transactions, eBay's overseas transactions rose by 146 percent from last year to $155.2m.

Contributing to the higher transaction figures, the number of active users using the site to bid, buy or list, rose by 57 percent in the quarter to 34.1 million, from 21.8 million active users in the second quarter of 2002.

GMS (Gross Merchandise Sales), the total value of items sold, was $5.6 billion in the quarter, up 66 percent on last year. eBay has nine product categories that generate more that $1 billion in worldwide yearly GMS. These include eBay Motors at $6.3 billion, consumer electronics and computers both at $2 billion, books/movies/music at $1.6 billion and sports at $1.5 billion.

With its results, eBay reissued its full-year profit forecast, upping it by $0.05 a share to $1.31. The company's full-year revenue forecast is $2.08 billion, up $25 million from initial expectations. However this figure falls short of analysts' predictions of $2.1 billion in revenue for the full year, according to Thomson First Call.

Some analysts have voiced concerns that eBay's European business could suffer as a result of VAT imposed on Internet auctions and other digital services from 1 July. eBay said it is too early to ascertain what the impact of the tax will be.

© ENN

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