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EBay Posts Robust Results, Marred by Weakness in Classifieds

Spencer Soper

(Bloomberg) -- EBay Inc. reported a robust first quarter and a forecast that beat expectations for its core business, although weakness in the global classifieds business weighed on the shares.

The San Jose, California-based company reported first-quarter sales were $2.4 billion. Analysts, on average, projected $2.34 billion. Earnings, excluding some costs, were 77 cents a share in the quarter, compared with analysts’ average estimate of 73 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The report shows EBay getting a boost as the Covid-19 outbreak curbs growth in the global economy but sends shoppers online for what they need.

The company said its marketplace generated gross merchandise volume, the value of all goods sold on its platforms, of $21.3 billion in the first quarter, excluding sales from ticket marketplace StubHub. That beat analysts’ estimates of $20.5 billion.

The one sour note was the classifieds business, which the company said was hurt because the pandemic forced the closing of car dealerships.

The shares dropped as much as 5.9% post-market before recovering somewhat.

EBay earlier this month named former Walmart Inc. executive Jamie Iannone as chief executive officer. Activist investors Elliott Management Corp. and Starboard Value have been pushing EBay to increase profitability by selling pieces of itself following years of stagnation in its core marketplace business.

The company in February completed the sale of its event-tickets marketplace StubHub to Viagogo for $4.05 billion and is exploring options for the classifieds business. EBay is also trying to boost revenue from its advertising and payments businesses.

The outbreak’s impact on classifieds likely dampened investor expectations for how much buyers would be willing to pay for the business.

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