eBay, Inc. Earnings: A Great Start to 2015

By Markets Fool.com

Let the bidding begin, eBay investors. The online auction and payments specialist just reported better-than-expected first quarter results, and eBay stock is up more than 5% in today's after-hours trading.

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Quarterly revenue climbed 4% year over year to $4.45 billion, which translated to a 5% increase in adjusted net income to $943 million, or $0.77 per diluted share. Keep in mind the latter figure was bolstered by eBay's decision to spend roughly $1 billion to repurchase 17.6 million shares of common stock during the quarter. That left $2 billion remaining under its current repurchase authorization as of March 31. Analysts, on average, were only expecting earnings of $0.70 per share on sales of $4.42 billion.

For the current quarter, eBay expects revenue of $4.4 billion to $4.5 billion, with adjusted earnings per diluted share of $0.71 to $0.73. Analysts would have been content with earnings at the low end of that range but were hoping for higher revenue of $4.57 billion.

Similarly for the full year 2015, eBay anticipates revenue of $18.35 billion to $18.85 billion -- a reduction from the initial guidance it offered three months ago of $18.6 billion to $19.1 billion -- with adjusted earnings of $3.05 to $3.15. Wall Street was modeling the same earnings of $3.10 per share on higher revenue of $18.96 billion.

(Still) a tale of 2 businesses
To be fair, like many other global businesses of late, eBay achieved its first-quarter results despite significant foreign currency headwinds. eBay's organic growth rate, for example, was 4% during the quarter, but would have been 9% had it not been for the strengthening dollar. And revenue growth at eBay Marketplaces and Paypal was negatively affected by currencies to the tune of seven and three percentage points, respectively.

eBay CEO John Donahoe reminded investors of the company's impending separation:

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I feel very good about the performance of our teams ateBayand PayPal. Each business is executing well with greater focus and operating discipline as we prepare to separateeBayand PayPal into independent publicly traded companies. We are moving forward with clarity and speed, with a smooth separation expected in the third quarter.

Speaking of which, eBay Marketplaces continued to lag, with gross merchandise volume falling 2%, albeit again primarily because of the strong dollar. That included roughly 2% growth in GMV in the U.S., and a 4% decline internationally, which combined to produce $2.1 billion in revenue. On a currency-neutral basis, International GMV climbed 7%, which would have brought global GMV growth to 5%. To its credit, however, Marketplaces gained another 2.1 million active buyers in the quarter, bringing its total up 8% year over year to 157 million.

eBay Enterprise continued to fare better, helping clients grow same-store sales 10% while at the same time generating gross merchandise sales of over $1 billion. Enterprise revenue came in at $288 million, or a 7% increase over the same year-ago period. eBay is also still exploring strategic options for Enterprise. Remember last quarter, eBay surprised investors when it first disclosed the move, explaining Enterprise "has limited synergies with either business and [that] a separation will allow both to focus exclusively on their core markets."

Finally, PayPal also continued its usual streak of outperformance, with net total payment volume growing 18% in Q1 to $61 billion. That includes Merchant Services volume growth of 26%, and a 1% decline in on-eBay volume. Payment volume through Marketplaces was $15 billion, or roughly 24% of PayPal's total. PayPal also added 3.6 million active accounts in the quarter, bringing its total accounts up 11% year over year to 165 million. When all was said and done, PayPal processed over one billion transactions during the quarter, an increase of 24% year over year.

Perhaps most notably, PayPal exceeded Marketplaces sales for the first time with net revenue of just under $2.11 billion, a 14% increase over the same year-ago period.

All things considered, this was a solid quarter achieved with no big surprises other than the negative repercussions of foreign exchange -- and even that should prove a temporary problem that doesn't indicate deeper underlying issues with eBay's businesses. With eBay and PayPal each continuing to hold their own as they steadily march toward independence later this year, I think eBay investors are right to celebrate today's report.

The article eBay, Inc. Earnings: A Great Start to 2015 originally appeared on Fool.com.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends eBay. The Motley Fool owns shares of eBay. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.