EBay sales get holiday boost from mobile push

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 January, 2013, 5:27am

EBay, operator of the world's largest online marketplace, reported fourth-quarter revenue that topped some analysts' estimates, helped by record holiday sales on the web and mobile devices.

Sales climbed 18 per cent to US$3.99 billion, the company said yesterday. That exceeded the average analysts' estimate of US$3.98 billion. Profit before certain items was 70 US cents a share, matching projections.

The results suggest chief executive John Donahoe is sustaining a turnaround effort that began in March 2008, when he succeeded Meg Whitman. The company has been pushing to generate more revenue from consumers shopping on tablets and smartphones, and from retailers that use eBay to sell their merchandise. That has resulted in 14 consecutive quarters of sales growth and a 75 per cent rally in the shares since Donahoe took the helm.

"The legacy marketplaces business - it's kind of carried into mobile," said Bill Smead, chief investment officer of Smead Capital Management. "You get involved with bidding or selling something on eBay, and it's nice to carry around the device where you're doing that with you."

On Cyber Monday in November, transactions on eBay's mobile applications more than doubled from the year before, while PayPal mobile-payment volume almost tripled. EBay charges a fee for each item sold and for each PayPal transaction.

PayPal's sales rose 24 per cent to US$1.54 billion. Revenue in the marketplaces division grew 16 per cent to US$2.05 billion, while US sales on eBay, excluding cars, trucks and other vehicles, jumped 19 per cent.

Net income in the fourth quarter fell to US$751 million from US$1.98 billion a year earlier, when eBay sold the remainder of its stake in Skype to Microsoft.