February 1, 2018 / 4:23 AM / a year ago

EBay website tweaks drive strong holiday sales, shares jump

(Reuters) - EBay Inc posted higher revenue for the key holiday quarter on Wednesday as changes to its websites and a focus on marketing drew more shoppers to its marketplaces.

FILE PHOTO: The eBay app is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration photo October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/File Photo

Shares of the San Jose, California-based e-commerce company climbed nearly 9 percent to a record high in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

EBay has modified its platforms, including its namesake shopping service, to include grouped listings and a simpler payment process to lure shoppers amid stiff competition from Amazon.com Inc.

“The biggest surprise from the quarter was the acceleration in growth of the core U.S. Marketplace business, which sets eBay on a stronger trajectory entering 2018,” Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian said.

EBay said its gross merchandise volume — the value of all goods sold on its websites — climbed 9.7 percent to $24.43 billion in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Sales and marketing expenses rose 13.3 percent to $689 million.

In a blog post, eBay said on Wednesday it has signed an agreement with Adyen to become its primary payments processing partner. (bit.ly/2rVenNh)

PayPal Holdings Inc would still remain a payment option as eBay expects the “transition to full payments intermediation will be a multi-year journey.”

EBay said it would move as quickly as possible to complete the transition within the parameters of its deal with PayPal, which remains in place through mid-2020. PayPal was spun off from eBay in 2015.

The e-commerce company said in a post-earnings call that the operating agreement with PayPal “has not been extended and it will not be extended.”

“With the announcement that eBay will begin to take over payments on the marketplace from PayPal, this opens up new revenue and profit opportunities over the long term,” said Sebastian.

For the quarter ending March, eBay forecast revenue between $2.57 billion and $2.61 billion and adjusted earnings of 52 cents to 54 cents per share. Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 52 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 9.1 percent to $2.61 billion. EBay recorded a $2.6 billion loss for the quarter because of a one-time $3.1 billion charge from the recent changes in U.S. tax laws.

Excluding one-time items, eBay earned 59 cents per share.

EBay said it would take a $1.9 billion tax charge related to the repatriation of its foreign earnings, though the charge would largely be offset thanks to accounting from years earlier.

D.A. Davidson analyst Tom Forte said in a recent note that repatriation could serve as a catalyst for additional mergers and acquisitions in the United States for eBay.

EBay on Wednesday also announced a $6 billion share buyback program.

Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Lisa Shumaker

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