EBay beats Wall Street, CEO to retire

EBay exceeded Wall Street's earnings and revenue expectations for its fourth quarter and, as expected, announced that Meg Whitman will step down as president and CEO at the end of March, ending a 10-year tenure at the helm of the e-commerce giant.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2007, eBay had revenue of US$2.18 billion, up $461 million from the fourth quarter of 2006 and above the $2.14 billion consensus estimate from analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

Revenue grew across the board, but PayPal, StubHub, Skype and advertising performed particularly well, as eBay enjoyed strong sales during the 2007 holiday season, the company said Wednesday.

New income was $531 million, or $0.39 per share, up from $346 million, or $0.25 per share, in 2006's fourth quarter. On a pro forma basis, which includes one-time items, net income was $611 million or $0.45 per share, topping the consensus expectation by $0.04.

Whitman will hand over her CEO and president titles on March 31, but she will remain on the company's board of directors. She will be succeeded by John Donahoe.

Whitman joined eBay in March 1998, when the company operated only in the U.S. and had 30 employees and $4.7 million in annual revenue. It now operates worldwide with more than 15,000 employees and almost $7.7 billion in revenue.

Donahoe has been with eBay since February 2005, coming from Bain & Company, where he was worldwide managing director since 1999. He is president of eBay Marketplaces, which generates more than 70 percent of the company’s global revenue.

Rajiv Dutta, PayPal's president, has been named eBay executive vice president and will also replace Donahoe as president of eBay Marketplaces. Scott Thompson, PayPal’s CTO, will take over as PayPal president.

Meanwhile, Bill Cobb, president of eBay North America, will step down and retire from the company at the end of the year. Lorrie Norrington, currently president of eBay International, will become president of eBay Marketplaces Operations and assume Cobb's responsibilities, eBay said.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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