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EBay sets aggressive 2015 targets, shares climb

A sign is shown at the headquarters of eBay in San Jose, California February 2, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
A sign is shown at the headquarters of eBay in San Jose, California February 2, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

By Alistair Barr

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - EBay Inc foresees annual earnings growth of 15 percent to 19 percent over the next three years, and is targeting an increase in revenue of as much as 68 percent for the period. The aggressive goals drove its shares up more than 4 percent.

Executives told analysts at eBay's annual investor day on Thursday that they expect revenue of $21.5 billion to $23.5 billion in 2015, versus $14 billion in 2012, as the company expands globally, focusing more on local commerce and using mobile technology to lure shoppers.

By then, its marketplaces business - which hosts external merchants - will handle $110 billion in sales volume in 2015, up from $75 billion in 2012, the executives said.

Wall Street embraced Chief Executive John Donahoe's new targets, sending eBay shares up 4.1 percent to $54.22 by the close of business on Thursday. The shares added another 0.5 percent to trade at $54.50 after hours.

"Management is clearly feeling confident about the next three years, and we would agree that they have tailwinds in both the Marketplace and payment businesses," said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at R.W. Baird.

"If they actually crack the local market opportunities, the guidance could prove conservative," he added.

After bleeding market share to Amazon.com Inc for years, eBay, under Chief Executive John Donahoe, began a turnaround effort in 2009 that put the Internet commerce company back on track by borrowing from its larger rival's playbook.

He took what was then a muddled auctions website and made it easier for shoppers to buy new items at fixed prices and get more free shipping and returns - essentially mimicking the Amazon experience. He also embraced mobile technology, creating shopping apps for smartphones and tablets that brought in new customers.

But eBay's online marketplace is still growing less than Amazon's and some analysts are concerned its growth may not keep up with the overall expansion of the online retail sector.

The forecast for Marketplaces, offered by its chief, Devin Wenig, was higher than Wall Street expected and represents a 47 percent jump in gross merchandise volume, or GMV, from 2012's $75 billion.

GMV is a closely watched measure of eBay's performance. Doug Anmuth, an analyst at JP Morgan, had estimated 2015 GMV of $101 billion.

PayPal President David Marcus said PayPal can double the size of its business in the next three years. That means total payment volume, or TPV, processed by PayPal will double from $145 billion at the end of 2012 to roughly $290 billion at the end of 2015. Anmuth was calling for 2015 total payment volume of $246.9 billion.

Wenig told analysts and investors that the company's core business will deliver at least market rates of growth.

CEO Donahoe said that the company would handle $300 billion of commerce in 2015 in various ways, up 71 percent from $175 billion in 2012.

That forecast includes sales on eBay's online marketplace, payments processed by PayPal and other transactions touched by the company's various businesses, such as GSI Commerce.

"That's one of the ways we will measure our success," Donahoe said during eBay's investor day at its headquarters in Silicon Valley.

Chief Financial Officer Bob Swan said eBay's cut of that activity will decline slightly from 8 percent in 2012 to about 7.5 percent in 2015.

That decline will be driven by PayPal's growth and its expansion into physical stores, which is expected to be less profitable than its existing online payments business.

EBay is focusing on three main areas of growth - global expansion, local commerce and mobile applications designed to encourage consumers to shop more on its marketplace and use PayPal more to pay for those purchases.

EBay is aiming to increase sales in emerging markets and BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - by four times current levels in three years, said Wendy Jones, an executive overseeing the global push.

By the end of 2015, as much as 25 percent of eBay active users and more than 12 percent of global sales will come from BRIC countries and emerging markets, she added.

(Reporting by Alistair Barr; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Tim Dobbyn, Kenneth Barry and Steve Orlofsky)

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