eBay earnings: Payments drive growth; Marketplaces business improves

eBay today reported solid earnings for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2010, citing strong growth in mobile payments and improved performance in its Marketplaces business.For the quarter ending December 31, 2010, the company reported a net profit of $683.

eBay today reported solid earnings for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2010, citing strong growth in mobile payments and improved performance in its Marketplaces business.

For the quarter ending December 31, 2010, the company reported a net profit of $683.8 million, or 52 cents per share, a 24 percent gain over the same quarter a year ago. Fourth quarter revenue was also up, coming in at $2.5 billion. Wall Street had been expecting earnings of 47 cents per share on revenue of $2.49 billion. For the year, eBay reported net profit of $2.3 billion, or $1.73 on revenue of $9.2 billion. (Statement)

In a statement, eBay President and CEO John Donahoe said:

We delivered a strong fourth quarter and a solid year, driven by our customer focus, commitment to technology-led innovation and our operating discipline, which is enabling us to reinvest in growth. We are driving strong global growth at PayPal and strengthening our core eBay business. And we are innovating quickly in areas such as mobile, which is helping to position us at the forefront of trends shaping the future of shopping and payments.

On the PayPal front, the company ended the year with 94.4 million active accounts. Total payment volume was $26.9 billion in the quarter and that was driven largely by growth in the Merchant Services business, up 36 percent for the quarter and 42 percent for the year.

Likewise, the Marketplaces business was up - 4 percent for the quarter and 8 percent for the year. Gross merchandise volume (everything but cars) came in at $15 billion for the quarter, up 6 percent from a year ago. The number of items sold, however, was up 10 percent. On a call with analysts today, Donahoe said that PayPal is a big part of that - offering a safe and convenient way for buyers and sellers to pay and get paid. He also noted that International markets are expanding.

The company also reported gains in mobile, noting that mobile payment volume exceeding company expectations and that mobile gross merchandise volume for the year came in at nearly $2 billion. On today's call, Donahoe said the goal is to double that number to $4 billion. "Mobile is clearly becoming the new way people shop," he said, adding that eBay's mobile apps across platforms are leading the way.

"The distinctions between online and offline commerce continue to blur," he said

Looking ahead, the company said it expects first quarter revenue between $2.4 billion to $2.5 billion and EPS to come in between 44 cents and 46 cents. For the fiscal year, eBay is projecting revenue between $10.3 billion and $10.6 billion, with earnings of $1.90 to $1.95 per share.

Shares of eBay were down about 1 percent in regular trading, closing at $29.10. Shares surged in the after hours, up more than 4 percent.