Ebay holiday quarter sales jump; 2013 forecast cautious

SAN FRANCISCO (REUTERS) - Ebay reported holiday quarter results that just beat Wall Street expectations, but the e-commerce company also gave a cautious forecast for 2013.

Ebay shares climbed 1.7 per cent to US$53.80 in after-hours trading following the announcement.

Expectations were high ahead of the results because sales data from outside sources suggested strong sales growth from Ebay's online marketplace and a solid increase in transactions processed by the company's PayPal payments business.

Ebay's online marketplace, one of the largest in the world, has lagged behind the growth of e-commerce and Amazon.com Inc for several years.

But under Chief Executive John Donahoe, Ebay has invested to improve the buying experience by upgrading search capabilities and prodding sellers to provide more services such as free shipping and easier returns.

The explosive growth of mobile shopping and popular mobile shopping applications have also attracted hundreds of thousands of new consumers to Ebay's marketplace in the past year.

"These are great numbers," said Mr Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management, which owns Ebay shares.

"The marketplace business used to be a noose around their neck, but now it's a key destination for people wanting to buy new goods as well as existing goods."

Amazon shares edged up less than 1 per cent to US$269.31 in after-hours trading, close to a record. The world's largest Internet retailer is due to report fourth-quarter results on Jan 29.

On Wednesday, Ebay said fourth-quarter revenue jumped 18 per cent to US$3.99 billion.

Profit came in at US$927 million, or 70 cents a share, in the period. That compares with profit of US$789 million, or 60 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Ebay was expected to earn 69 cents a share on revenue of US$3.98 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Ebay forecast 2013 revenue of US$16 billion to US$16.5 billion and profit of US$2.70 to US$2.75 a share.

Wall Street was calling for revenue of US$16.3 billion and profit of US$2.74 a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

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