EBay reported its Q4 and full-year earnings after market close today, where it reported sales of $2.6 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $0.59 for the quarter (versus $0.54 a year ago), and $9.6 billion in revenues for the year. While the holiday season, which fell into the quarter that ended December 31, is traditionally a huge time for e-commerce companies, in the case of this e-commerce giant, it fell short: analysts were expecting sales of $2.61 billion and earnings per share of 59 cents.
Still, the company tried to sound an upbeat tone pointing to active buyer growth of five percent to 170 million. Gross Merchandise Volume, or the total amount spent on its platform, was $24.425 billion versus $22.275 billion for the same quarter a year ago.
“Q4 was a record quarter for eBay, representing the fifth quarter in a row of volume acceleration in our US Marketplace,” said Devin Wenig, President and CEO of eBay Inc. “We have made great progress transforming eBay while delivering meaningful growth and we expect further acceleration in 2018 as we continue to execute our strategy.”
The earnings come on the heels of a lacklustre Q3 for eBay, where sales of $2.4 billion and EPS $0.48 fell well within analyst estimates but didn’t underscore any dramatic growth for the company, which added 2 million customers in that quarter.
It’s interesting to compare eBay to Amazon. Once a stablemate and potential rival of eBay’s in first wave of large e-commerce hits, Amazon has gone on to diversify massively into a multi-service loyalty program, artificial intelligence and gadgets to make AI a part of everyone’s home life, original content, cloud services targeting enterprises and other businesses, and more.
eBay’s biggest and most successful expansion beyond its core auction business and marketplace was probably acquiring PayPal, which it later divested and, as you can see from its earnings earlier today, is now bigger than the company that once owned it. Even in its core business of selling goods online, some have described it as eBay struggling for relevancy as consumer and sellers in categories like fashion have moved beyond its own efforts.
More to come.