EBay checks in with another strong quarter

Good times for eBay as it tops estimates for the second quarter
Written by Larry Barrett, Contributor

Online auctioneer eBay had no trouble topping Street estimates in its second quarter Tuesday, returning a profit of $13.2m, or five cents a share, on sales of $97.4m.

First Call consensus expected eBay to earn three cents a share in the quarter.

eBay shares closed up 1 1/8 to 56 1/4 ahead of the earnings report before moving up to 57 3/4 in after-hours trading.

The $97.4m in sales represents a 97 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it earned $5.1m, or two cents a share, on sales of $49.5m.

"We are very pleased with our second quarter results," said chief executive Meg Whitman in a prepared release. "Everyday the eBay marketplace becomes indispensable to more people and small businesses around the world."

Including a variety of one-time charges, eBay pocketed $11.6m, or four cents a share, in the quarter. Officials said the were comfortable with top and bottom-line estimates for the remainder of 2000. Gross profit margins moved up to 76 percent from 73 percent in the first quarter.

In the quarter, eBay posted online sales of $87.9m, up 130 percent from the $38.2m it recorded in the year-ago quarter.

It hosted more than 62.5 million auctions in the quarter, up from 29.3 million in the same period last year. Gross merchandise sales surged to a record $1.3b, a 109 percent increase from the second quarter of 1999.

Company officials said its registered user base jumped to 15.8 million in the quarter, up 183 percent from the 5.6 million users it held in the same period last year.

Last quarter, eBay zipped past analysts' estimates, earning $8m, or six cents a share, on sales of $85.8 million.

Its shares hustled up to a 52-week high of 127 1/2 in March after falling to a low of 35 1/8 in August.

Twenty-eight of the 31 analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy".

First Call consensus expects it to earn 17 cents a share in the fiscal year.

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