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EBay's profits surge nearly 40 percent

Web auctioneer eBay Inc. on Wednesday said its quarterly net profit rose nearly 40 percent, as a strong holiday season fueled better-than-expected sales, listings and online payments.
/ Source: Reuters

Web auctioneer eBay Inc.  Wednesday said its quarterly net profit rose nearly 40 percent, as a strong holiday season fueled better-than-expected sales, listings and online payments.

The company, which said it was the No. 1 shopping destination in the latest holiday season, also raised guidance for 2004.

The company now sees full-year revenue of up to $3 billion. It also forecast a 2004 net profit of up to 99 cents a share and earnings, before items, of as much as $1.04 a share.

News of the outlook sent shares of the company up almost 3 percent to $66.20 in extended trade. At the close of the market they closed down 2 percent at $64.38 on Nasdaq.

Rajiv Dutta, chief financial officer at eBay, said 2003 was a “very strong year capped by an extremely strong holiday season.”

San Jose, California-based eBay posted fourth-quarter net profit of $142.5 million, or 21 cents a diluted share, up from net profit of $87 million, or 14 cents, in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding items, eBay’s profit for the recently completed quarter was 24 cents a share, beating company and Wall Street estimates.

Net revenue jumped 57 percent to $648.4 million from $413.9 million last year.

Analysts, on average, had seen the company posting a profit, before items, of 22 cents a share on revenues of $623.6 million, according to Reuters Research, a unit of Reuters Group Plc.

For the current first quarter, eBay forecast revenue as high as $700 million. It guided to net earnings of up to 24 cents a share and earnings, excluding items, of up to 25 cents.

“The guidance reflects our increased confidence,” Dutta said in an interview with Reuters.