Online auction house eBay reported a profit of $8 million, or 6 cents a share, for its first quarter, ended March 30, almost doubling the $4.8 million profit reported a year ago. Market analysts had expected a profit of between 3 cents and 5 cents a share. Company execs took the opportunity Tuesday to announce a 2-for-1 stock split scheduled for May 24.
EBay experienced major expansion in the quarter, creating an exchange for small businesses, announcing a joint venture with Autotrader.com, and breaking into the Japanese market. But arguably the most significant bit of growth for the company was a 230% increase of registered users of the auction site over the first quarter of 1999. That pushed revenue from online sales to $77.3 million, compared with $34.0 million a year ago.
"This was a solid quarter from eBay," says W.R.Hambrecht & Co. analyst Derek Brown. "It demonstrated yet again the consistency and profitability of their business model." Brown is optimistic about eBay's immediate future. "User adoption of the platform is at an all-time high, and their expansion efforts seem to be moving along efficiently."