EBay profits up, but economy has impact

EBay Inc. posted a third-quarter profit that beat analysts' forecasts Wednesday, but its lower than expected fourth-quarter forecast indicated the online auction site operator is not immune from the slowing economy.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company's shares fell 54 cents, or 3.8 percent, in after-hours trading, after finishing regular trading down $2.41, or 13.6 percent, at $15.33.

EBay earned $492 million, or 38 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Sept. 30. In the year-ago period, eBay reported a loss of $936 million, or 69 cents per share, stemming from charges to its Skype telecommunications unit.

Excluding one-time items, eBay earned 46 cents per share – five cents higher than analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected.

Revenue rose 12 percent to $2.12 billion, a bit lower than the $2.13 billion analysts anticipated.

Sales from the company's marketplace segment – which includes eBay,, StubHub and other e-commerce sites – rose more than 4 percent to $1.38 billion.

The company's PayPal unit logged much higher growth – 27 percent, with revenue rising to $597 million.

EBay's number of new listings jumped 26 percent year over year to 700 million. But the number of active users – which is an important measure of how well it is doing at bringing in new buyers and sellers – rose just 3 percent in the quarter to 85.7 million.

And going forward, eBay expects its fourth-quarter earnings to drop. Among other things, eBay cited costly upcoming acquisitions and plans to cut 10 percent of its work force.

The company forecast a fourth-quarter profit of 25 cents to 27 cents per share; eBay earned 39 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Excluding items, eBay expects to earn 39 cents to 41 cents per share in the period. On this basis, analysts had anticipated a profit of 47 cents per share.

The company also sees its revenue dipping, as it predicted $2.02 to $2.17 billion in revenue. EBay's revenue totaled $2.18 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts were expecting $2.43 billion in revenue.