EBay doubles Q1 profit

Seemingly immune from the economic malaise plaguing much of the industry, eBay doubled its profit in the just-ended quarter, as more than $5 billion in merchandise passed through the online auction site.

EBay, based in San Jose, California, reported Tuesday US$476.5 million in revenue in the quarter ended March 31, up from $245.1 million in last year's first quarter. Net income was $104.2 million, up 119 percent from last year's $47.6 million.

Excluding stock-based compensation expenses, amortization of some assets, and some tax and investment costs, eBay reported pro-forma net income of $116.2 million and $0.36 in per-share earnings. That handily topped the $0.32 consensus per-share earnings estimate of analysts polled by Thomson First Call.

EBay is now "more confident than ever" about the long term potential of all of its business activities, Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman said in a statement.

That confidence translated into an increased earnings and revenue forecast for 2003. EBay now anticipates up to $2.05 billion in revenue this year, and per-share earnings of $1.27, $0.15 higher than it previously estimated.

The bullish predictions sent eBay's share price to a new 52-week high in Wednesday trading, as the company's stock (EBAY) rose 4.7 percent, to $93.43, in morning trading on the Nasdaq exchange.

EBay now has 31.1 million active users, the company said. Listings totaled a record 220 million during the just-ended quarter.

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