The online auctioneer, a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation, broke the $1 billion mark, as net revenues in the first quarter climbed 36% to $1.03 billion, on a year-over-year basis. Meanwhile, net income rose 28% to $256.3 million, or $0.19 per share, beating the analyst estimate by a couple of pennies. Those figures also compare favorably with the disappointing guidance the company issued in January, when it called for revenues of $1.01 billion to $1.03 billion and post-split earnings of $0.17 per share.
The first thing most investors will notice is that 36% overall revenue growth and 28% net income growth are completely alien figures compared with the 40%-50% and better growth figures eBay has been accustomed to delivering. Active users increased a modest 34% to 60.5 million, new listings were 32% higher at 431.8 million, and gross merchandise volume was up 32% to $10.6 billion. Take it as a sign of approaching maturity -- in general, growth rates slow as companies get bigger, since it is much more difficult to grow $4 billion in revenues at a 50% annual clip than to grow $1 billion.
But the growth is still there in international markets and in eBay's payments business. International revenues grew 52% to $393.8 million, while the PayPal payments business saw revenues climb a healthy 47% to $233.1 million.
So the bleeding has stopped, at least for now. Looking ahead, eBay expects second-quarter earnings of $0.16 per share, third-quarter earnings of $0.16 to $0.17 per share, and fourth-quarter earnings of $0.20 to $0.21 per share. Overall, the company upped its guidance for the full year by $0.03 per share, forecasting per-share earnings of $0.71 to $0.73 for the year.
At about 44 times the analysts' $0.77-per-share full-year estimate, eBay's stock still carries a respectable premium, but -- stating the obvious -- if you were going to sell, you probably should have done it before. It should be noted that the estimates don't reflect the expensing of the company's stock options program. That said, if you were ever interested in the stock, now might be a good time to look into what may arguably be the most attractive business in the world. Well, at least I think so.
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