October 17, 2012, 4:53 PM

eBay sales surge 16% in Q3

U.S. marketplace sales hit $6.48 billion, up 16% from last year.

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The value of merchandise sold on eBay Inc.’s U.S. marketplace increased 16% year over year in the third quarter to $6.48 billion from $5.59 billion, eBay reported Thursday. Globally, the value of merchandise sold on eBay’s marketplaces increased 11% year over year. The company’s net Q3 revenue increased 15% compared with the same period last year. 

New customers accounted for much of the growth at eBay.com and for the company’s PayPal payment service, says John Donahoe, eBay’s president and CEO. 800,000 new Marketplace customers came from mobile in Q3, eBay reports.

"Mobile continues to be a game changer for us, and we continue to be a clear leader in mobile commerce and payments,” Donahoe says. “With our strong portfolio and global reach, we are consistently demonstrating our capabilities to help consumers shop anytime, anywhere and we are enabling retailers of all sizes to compete in a rapidly evolving, multichannel commerce environment."

EBay expects to handle more than $10 billion in mobile payment volume in 2012, he told investors in a quarterly earnings conference call this afternoon, repeating a projection the company had made previously. Sellers are listing more than 2 million items on Marketplaces per week via smartphones, he said.

For the third quarter ending Sept. 30, eBay reported:

  • The value of merchandise sold worldwide on eBay, excluding vehicles, was $16.3 billion, up about 11% from $14.7 billion last year. 60% of Marketplaces revenue, or $9.80 billion, came from outside the United States.
  • Net revenue for eBay Marketplaces this quarter was $1.81 billion, up 9.7% from $1.65 billion in Q3 2011, driven by growth in the United States and the Asia-Pacific region, the company says.
  • The third quarter saw the fastest growth in active Marketplace users since 2007, nearly 10%, eBay says. The company reported 108.3 million active users of its online marketplace at the end of the third quarter, up from 98.7 million a year earlier.
  • Active users of eBay’s payment services, which include consumers with PayPal or Bill Me Later accounts, increased to 117.4 million this quarter, up 14% over the same period last year. Bill Me Later offers shoppers deferred billing.
  • PayPal’s net revenue increased 23.4%, to approximately $1.37 billion compared with $1.11 billion in Q3 2011.
  • Payment volume increased 20.1% year over year to $35.2 billion from $29.3 billion in Q3 2011. 67% of eBay’s payment volume came from the company’s merchant services unit that handles off-eBay payments for online retailers.
  • Net revenue from GSI Commerce Inc., an e-commerce technology and service provider that eBay acquired last year, increased 11.8% year over year to $226 million from $202 million in the same period last year. EBay attributes that to a 16% year-over-year increase in global e-commerce merchandise sales from GSI’s merchant clients, with same-store sales up 19% year over year, it says.
  • EBay’s net revenue was $3.40 billion, up about 14.5% from $2.97 billion in the same quarter last year.
  • Q3 net income was $597 million, up 21.6% from approximately $491 million a year ago.

PayPal has been expanding eBay’s reach beyond e-commerce through partnerships to allow PayPal payments in stores, including with The Home Depot Inc., No. 43 in the Internet Retailer Top 500. PayPal announced in May that 15 other national retailers would accept PayPal in stores and in August PayPal also announced a deal with Discover Financial Services that will allow the 7 million U.S. retailers that accept Discover cards in stores to accept PayPal payments.

During the third quarter eBay also acquired shopping recommendation service Svpply.com for an undisclosed price and the e-marketplace giant revamped its web site. “We’re focusing on being a partner, not a competitor, to retailers of all sizes,” Donahoe said in the call with investors.

For the nine months ending Sept. 30, eBay reported:

  • Net revenue of $10.079 billion, up 21.8% from $8.272 billion in the first nine months of 2011.
  • Net income of $1.859 billion, an increase of 48.7% from $1.250 billion during the same period last year.

In the same call with investors, Bob Swan, eBay’s chief financial officer, said three trends are driving the company’s active user growth. First, he said the revamped eBay web site provides a better user experience, helping to re-engage consumers who have stopped buying on eBay. Secondly, the company’s growth in emerging markets, notably in Brazil and Russia, is garnering many new customers from those countries’ rising middle classes, he says. Lastly, he again highlighted eBay’s strength in mobile, adding that the new mobile customers tend to be women and slightly younger than the rest of its user base.

Analysts at Susquehanna International Group (SIG) LLC and Baird Equity Research tended to agree on most points that eBay’s Q3 earnings were decent, if not extraordinary. “Its marketplace business is still trying to find its identity away from auctions, while balancing the needs of both buyers and sellers,” write SIG analysts Hermen Leung and Deepak Mathivanan.

“The company has reported more upside in recent prior quarters,” write Baird analysts Colin Sebastian and Gregor Schauer. “Nonetheless, key metrics were generally solid, including accelerating user and U.S. [gross merchandise value] growth.”

While PayPal is still critical to eBay, it did not meet either firm’s estimates for transaction revenue or operating profits. In mid-day trading the day after the announcement, shares of eBay were up nearly 5%.

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