EBay to pay first-ever dividend

By EcommerceFOXBusiness

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Ebay said Tuesday it would pay a 14-cent dividend in March, its first ever.

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The move comes as the company faced pressure from hedge-fund investors to boost shareholder returns.

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Ebay also added $4 billion to its buyback program. Its authorization was $3.2 billion on Dec. 31.

The dividend, which is set to be paid on March 20, is part of a broader capital-return plan the company announced.

Shares of eBay rose nearly 2.8 percent during after-hours trading.

Over the next two years,  the company plans to return about $7 billion to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that hedge-fund investors Elliott Management  and Starboard Value have taken stakes in the company and are pushing it to offload its StubHub ticketing and classified-ads businesses.

Additionally, Elliott had said in a letter to eBay’s board that the company could sustain a modest dividend, especially given that it was the slowest-growing technology company of its size without a dividend. It also called on the company to accelerate share buybacks.

For the fourth quarter, the online marketplace posted a profit of $760 million, or 80 cents a share, compared with a loss of $2.6 billion, or $2.51 a share, a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned a profit of 71 cents a share, up from 59 cents the same period a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings of 89 cents a share, or 68 cents a share on an adjusted basis.

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Total sales rose 6 percent to $2.88 billion from $2.71 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected $2.86 billion of revenue for the quarter. StubHub revenue increased 2 percent from last year to $314 million. The company said that its number of active buyers grew by 4 percent across its platforms during the fourth quarter.

For the full-year 2019, the company said it expects adjusted earnings between $2.62 and $2.68 per share and between $10.7 billion and $10.9 billion in revenue.