Ebay's poor revenue outlook overshadows first-ever dividend

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today Jan 30, 2019
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Ebay Inc forecast March quarter revenue below Wall Street estimates after reporting disappointing growth in the volume of sales on its platform during the key holiday quarter, overshadowing news of its first-ever dividend.


Shares of the online marketplace were down 1 percent in after-hours trading, reversing course after an initial jump following Ebay’s move to pay a quarterly dividend of 14 cents per share.

The lackluster forecast comes as San Jose, California-based Ebay faces demands from two prominent activist shareholders to sell some divisions and restructure others in the midst of fierce competition with Amazon.com Inc and other online stores.

Ebay said consumer spending during December, a normally busy shopping period, was slow despite more buyers using its platform.

“We did see that effect more pronounced this year than we have in prior years,” Chief Executive Officer Devin Wenig said on a conference call with analysts.
Wenig also predicted more near-term pressure on Ebay’s gross merchandise volume (GMV) - the value of all products sold on its websites.

Ebay forecast adjusted earnings of between 62 and 64 cents per share and revenue of $2.55 billion to $2.60 billion for the quarter ending March.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 61 cents per share and revenue of $2.66 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

GMV overall rose just 1 percent in the December quarter and also missed analysts’ estimates, while in the United States it dipped 1 percent.

Still, results for the final quarter of 2018 showed Ebay’s sales had climbed 6.3 percent year-over-year to $2.88 billion, exceeding Wall Street’s average estimate of $2.86 billion.

A multi-year effort by Ebay to make its platform simpler to users, by introducing grouped listings, personal recommendations and an easier-to-use payment process is helping attract more users to its platforms.

Ebay had 179 million active buyers at the end of the December quarter, about 2 million more than the previous quarter.

Its quarterly net income from continuing operations reached $763 million, compared with a loss of $2.6 billion a year earlier, when eBay recorded a one-time, tax-related expense of more than $3 billion.

Excluding one-time items, Ebay earned 71 cents per share, topping analysts’ expectations of 68 cents.

The company also announced an increase to its share buybacks by $4 billion.

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