EBay Earnings Miss Expectations

Online marketplace eBay Inc. (EBAY) said Wednesday quarterly profit rose 44 percent, helped by growth in its PayPal (search) service, but results missed Wall Street expectations.

Its stock fell in after-hours trade to about $93 from a close of $103.05 on Nasdaq.

San Jose, Calif.-based eBay said fourth-quarter net income increased to $205.4 million, or 30 cents per diluted share, from $142.5 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding items, eBay's profit was 33 cents a share.

Net revenue rose to $935.8 million from $648.4 million.

Analysts, on average, had expected eBay to post a profit, excluding items, of 34 cents a share on revenue of $934.4 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Those estimates were higher than eBay's fourth-quarter outlook, issued in October, calling for revenue of $915 million and earnings of 32 cents.

For the current first quarter, eBay forecast revenue of $1.01 billion to $1.03 billion and earnings excluding items of 34 cents to 35 cents a share, below analysts' consensus forecast of 40 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

EBay forecast 2005 revenue of $4.25 billion to $4.35 billion and earnings excluding items of $1.48 to $1.52 per share. Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates had forecast 2005 revenue of $4.37 billion and full-year earnings of $1.62 per share, excluding items.

EBay also announced a two-for-one stock split (search), payable Feb. 16 to shareholders of record on Jan. 31.

EBay's shares, which closed down 3.1 percent, have been trending downward since early January on valuation concerns.