Online auction site eBay posted sales and profits Wednesday that beat analyst expectations, following a strong holiday shopping season and higher use of its online-payments service.
Net income for the fourth quarter of 2011 rose more than four times to $1.98 billion, or $1.51 a share. Revenue for the quarter rose $3.38 billion, up 35 percent from 2010. EBay's fourth-quarter income results included a one-time gain from the San Jose, Calif.-based commerce site's sale of its stake in voice communications provider Skype to Microsoft.
Analysts polled by ThomsonReuters had expected earnings on continuing operations of 57 cents, on revenue of $3.32 billion. In fact, eBay's earnings on that basis were 60 cents.
We had a strong fourth quarter finish to an excellent year, increasing our confidence in our three-year outlook, eBay CEO John Donahoe said in a statement.
The auction and payment company's full-year revenue rose 27 percent to $11.65 billion.
The eBay results may foreshadow a similar blowout performance from Amazon.com, the largest online retailer, which is scheduled to report results later this month.
Fourth-quarter revenue for the marketplace unit of the company gained 16 percent from $1.77 billion last year based on strong online shopping sales. Shoppers spent a record $37.2 billion online during November and December, up 15 percent from the previous year, digital analytics firm comScore reported.
PayPal, the online-payments sector of the company, reported a 28 percent jump in revenue to $1.24 billion. The business ended the quarter with more than 106.3 million accounts, a 13 percent increase year over year. We are a different eBay today, no longer just an e-commerce leader but a stronger, more diverse global commerce company shaping the future of shopping and payments, Donahoe said.
Shares of eBay rose in after-hours trading to $31.09, up 75 cents. The company's market capitalization is $39.4 billion.