EBay Profit Rises 24%, Exceeding Estimates

EBay's quarterly net profit rose 24%, aided by strength in its core auction business and international growth, and the company said 2007 earnings would be at the high end of analysts' forecasts.

A consensus forecast from Thomson Financial projected eBay earning 28 cents a share. In the comparable period a year ago, eBay reported a profit of 24 cents a share.

Shares surged 9.7% to $32.92 in extended trading following the results, adding to a 4.8% rise in regular-session trading ahead of the report, when it was buoyed by a surge in Internet stocks and the broader U.S. market.

Net income reached $346.5 million, up 24% over $279.2 million in last year's fourth quarter.

Revenue rose 29% to $1.72 billion from a year earlier, representing a steadying of eBay's growth rate in recent quarters that could reassure investors worried by a decline in the past three years from levels around 50%.

Analysts were looking for revenue, on average, of $1.67 billion, a growth rate of about 25%.

Excluding one-time stock-based compensation charges, net income rose 35% to $397 million, or 28 cents a share.

EBay said it expected first-quarter net revenue of $1.67 billion to $1.72 billion, squarely in the middle of current estimates. Analysts forecasts ranged from $1.65 billion to $1.75 billion for the quarter, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company expects first-quarter diluted earnings per share, excluding one-time items, in a range of 28 cents to 30 cents. The current Wall Street consensus is for 29 cents a share, according to the Reuters Estimates survey.

For the 2007 year, eBay said it expected revenue from $7.05 billion to $7.30 billion.

Wall Street was looking for revenue to grow around 21%, based on the average of a range of estimates between $6.94 billion and $7.49 billion, according to Reuters Estimates, squarely in the middle of forecasts.

Full-year 2007 earnings, excluding one-time items, are expected to be in a range from $1.25 to $1.29 a share, the company said.

EBay president and chief executive officer Meg Whitman will appear Thursday on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" at 9:45 am New York time.