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eBay hurdles estimates in second quarter

Online auctioneer eBay Inc. topped analysts' estimates by a penny a share in its second quarter Monday, earning $5.1m (3.1m), or 4 cents a share, on sales of $49.5m.

First Call consensus pegged eBay for a profit of 3 cents a share in the quarter.

The stock closed off 3 7/16 to 104 3/8 ahead of the earnings report but made back that loss in after-market trading. The $49.5m in sales represents a 154 percent improvement versus the year-ago quarter when it pocketed $5.2m, or 5 cents a share, on sales of $19.5m.

In the quarter, eBay added 1.7 million registered users, giving it a total of 5.6 million users at the end of June, a 46 percent jump from the first quarter and a 556 percent explosion from the year-ago quarter.

eBay hosted 29.4 million auctions during the quarter, up from 22.9 million in the first quarter. Its gross merchandise sales were $622m, up 15 percent from the $541m reported in the first quarter of 1999 and a 346 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. "We have tremendous momentum in our flagship business," said CEO Meg Whitman in a prepared release. "Our community continues to expand at a rate higher than the Internet in general."

Last quarter, eBay beat Street estimates, earning $5.9m, or 5 cents a share, on sales of $34m. Its shares moved up to a 52-week high of 234 in April after trading at a low of 8 3/8 in October.

Twelve of the 15 analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

First Call consensus expects the California company to earn 20 cents a share in the fiscal year.