SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Internet auction site eBay Inc. Tuesday reported higher fourth-quarter sales and earnings and raised its guidance for the first half of 2002, saying the recent performance reinforced its confidence in future momentum.
EBay reported a net profit of $25.9 million or nine cents per share in the quarter, compared with net income of $23.9 million, or nine cents per share, in the year ago quarter, and said its international business achieved operating profitability for the first time.
EBay, one of the few Internet companies that has been consistently profitable, raised its revenue forecasts for the first half of 2002 to between $490 million and $510 million. During a meeting with analysts in October, the company had forecast revenues of just over $460 million for that period.
The company said its fourth quarter operating earnings, excluding a range of costs, totaled $38.5 million or 14 cents per share, in the upper range of expectations.
Analysts on average, had been expecting earnings of 13 cents per share amid a range of 12 cents to 15 cents per share, according to research firm Thomson Financial/First Call.
EBay said its revenues rose to $219.4 million from $134 million year ago.
In an interview after the earnings were released, eBay Chief Financial Officer Rajiv Dutta said the recent holiday season was one of its best ever, despite the recession in the United States.
The company also said it expected to post operating earnings of 32 cents to 33 cents per share during the first half of 2002, which is in line with guidance it has provided previously.
EBay shares, which had closed the regular trading session up 87 cents to $64.03, were quoted lower, at around $62.25 in after-hours activity, following the release of earnings.
Analysts said eBay stock could come under pressure if investors start to see it as a maturing company with slowing momentum.
CFO Dutta tried to dismiss those concerns on Tuesday and said its U.S. business had seen accelerated growth during the fourth quarter.