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EBay Growth Ebbs, Sparking Concern Pandemic Boost Is Over

Spencer Soper
·3 min read

(Bloomberg) -- EBay Inc.’s marketplace growth slowed in the third quarter, worrying investors that an online shopping boost from the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t sustainable.

Gross merchandise volume, the value of all goods sold on the site, rose 22% in the third quarter, down from 26% growth in the second quarter. International GMV increased 16%, a smaller gain than the previous period.

“If you look at EBay prior to Covid, they were under-performing other e-commerce companies, and that’s the concern,” said Brian Yarbrough, an analyst at Edward D. Jones & Co. “Do we go back to that lackluster performance after Covid?”

The shares dropped 4% in extended trading after closing at $53.25 in New York.

Fourth-quarter sales will be $2.64 billion to $2.71 billion, the San Jose, California-based company said Wednesday in a statement. That compares with $2.8 billion in revenue during last year’s fourth quarter. The new forecast partly reflects recent asset sales.

Pandemic-wary shoppers have turned to online marketplaces like EBay and Amazon.com Inc. to avoid stores in the era of social distancing. The company said it ended the quarter with 183 million active buyers. That was less than analysts’ average prediction for almost 184 million, raising fears about customer growth.

Investors may be concerned that EBay’s growth is lagging behind e-commerce growth overall, which is more than 30%, said Ron Josey, an analyst at JMP Securities. “You could argue they are still losing share here,” he added.

Chief Executive Officer Jamie Iannone, who took the helm in April, is still trying to show that a slimmed-down EBay can lure customers and get them to spend more on the site. Under pressure from activist investors, EBay in February completed the sale of its event-tickets marketplace StubHub to Viagogo for $4.05 billion. In July, EBay sold the classifieds business to Norway’s Adevinta ASA in a cash and stock deal worth $9.2 billion that leaves EBay with a 44.4% stake in the company.

Iannone said he is focusing on refurbished products with two-year warranties from brands like DeLonghi and Makita. The market for refurbished brand goods is in the tens of billions of dollars and is a good fit for EBay deal-seekers, he said. The company is also developing authentication services for luxury watches and second-hand sneakers to attract more high-value products to the site and increase average order sizes, the CEO added.

EBay has deals with United Parcel Service Inc. and other carriers to protect sellers from shipping capacity issues and surcharges over the busy holiday period, he noted.

“We’re well positioned to help sellers reach buyers this holiday season,” Iannone said.

In the fourth quarter, profit, excluding some items, will be 78 to 84 cents a share, EBay said, compared with analysts’ estimates of 80 cents. Third-quarter revenue rose 25% to $2.6 billion. Analysts estimated $2.58 billion. Profit before certain items in the recent period was 85 cents per share, beating the average estimate of 80 cents.

(Updates with analyst comment in third paragraph)

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