eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) enjoyed a nice run in 2015, with its stock climbing nearly 17% year to date. That is markedly better than the broader market. The S&P 500, for example, is down around 1.67% over the same period. It is in this spirit that we've outlined below what headlines drove the stock higher this year, and whether it's still worth owning heading into the new year.
The online marketplace and auction house went into 2015 with the foresight that it would, indeed, spin off its lucrative Paypal (NASDAQ:PYPL) business. As a result, eBay kicked off the year by expanding its board of directors to better handle the anticipated separation of its payments segment.
eBay welcomed Perry Traquina and Frank Yeary to its board of directors in January. The e-commerce giant appointed them as independent directors to offer valuable financial expertise as the company navigated toward a planned split of eBay and PayPal into separate entities.
In addition to expanding its board of directors, eBay also announced a "standstill agreement" with Carl Icahn. The agreement enabled Jonathan Christodoro, a top executive of Icahn Capital, to join eBay's board of directors and left Icahn with the power to decide which board (eBay's or Paypal's) Christodoro would ultimately serve on after the split.
If you remember, it was Icahn and his activist investor ways that ultimately pushed eBay into its 2014 decision to spin off Paypal. Meanwhile, the actual separation of the companies occurred later in 2015.
eBay unveiled a leadership shuffle in April that included the addition of three new executives. Harry Lawton, a former Home Depot executive, joined the eBay team as the company's new head of eBay North America. Marie Oh Huber from Agilent Technologies joined as eBay's General Counsel, and Scott Cutler, a former NYSE executive, hoped on board as the new head of StubHub.
Similar to eBay's board additions earlier in the year, this move also had to do with the impending spinoff of Paypal. At the time of these announcements, the company's management was busy touting the strength of eBay's underlying business in order to give investors an idea of what the company would look like without its profitable Payments arm.
In the April press release, the company said, "Following separation, eBay will be a global commerce leader with approximately $9 billion in annual revenues."
Investors pushed the stock higher, despite the e-commerce company reporting mixed fiscal 2015 second-quarter results. Profits of $0.76 per share impressed, while quarterly revenue of $4.38 billion was below estimates for Q2 sales of $4.49 billion. One of the positive headlines from the earnings report was that eBay approved an additional $1 billion stock repurchasing program. This brought its total repurchase plan to $3 billion, which helped create shareholder value by reducing the outstanding share count -- thus giving investors a reason to smile.
This quarter also marked the last time eBay and Paypal would report quarter results as a single entity.
The e-commerce behemoth officially bids farewell to its longtime friend Paypal. The payments processor had operated under eBay's roof for the past 13 years. Nevertheless, the split proved a positive one for shares of eBay, which climbed nearly 7% on the news that day. Paypal began trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol PYPL. Investors who owned eBay pre-split were rewarded with proportional ownership in Paypal.
For example, if you owned 10 shares of eBay stock ahead of the split, you now own 10 shares of Paypal stock as well. That ended up being a nice deal for shareholders considering Paypal now boasts a market cap of $45 billion, or more than 35% above eBay's current market capitalization. Ultimately, eBay's sale of PayPal in July marked one of the year's biggest spinoffs, according to Dealogic, and is largely viewed as a positive for the online marketplace retailer.
eBay makes headlines for its booming sneaker business. As it turns out, reselling sneakers is a $1.2 billion market, according to research company Campless. eBay reportedly commands as much as 25% of that market, and its influence is growing as more sneaker-obsessed shoppers buy and sell used kicks on the eBay marketplace. The e-commerce giant estimates that its so-called "sneakerhead" network now consists of more than 160 million buyers and sellers worldwide, according to Digiday.
Cyber Monday sales came in strong for eBay during the important holiday shopping season. Some of the highlights included: selling 7,500 hoverboards, or one every 12 seconds; and more than 19,000 Star Wars-related items, or one every four and half seconds. The online retailer also saw a 12% year-over-year spike in mobile sales during the four days between Nov. 26 and Nov. 29 this year.
These are some of the upbeat headlines that helped push shares of eBay higher throughout the year, despite a management shuffle and the ultimate spinoff of its lucrative payments business. Looking ahead, eBay is well positioned to continue dominating in 2016.