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eBay checks in with another strong quarter

    Online auctioneer eBay had no trouble topping Street estimates in its second quarter Tuesday, returning a profit of $13.2 million, or 5 cents a share, on sales of $97.4 million.

    First Call Corp. consensus expected eBay to earn 3 cents a share in the quarter.

    eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) shares closed up 1 1/8 to 56 1/4 ahead of the earnings report before moving up to 57 3/4 in after-hours trading.

    The $97.4 million in sales represents a 97 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it earned $5.1 million, or 2 cents a share, on sales of $49.5 million.

    "We are very pleased with our second quarter results," said CEO Meg Whitman in a prepared release. "Everyday the eBay marketplace becomes indispensable to more people and small businesses around the world."

    Including a variety of one-time charges, eBay pocketed $11.6 million, or 4 cents a share, in the quarter. Officials said the were comfortable with top- and bottom-line estimates for the remainder of 2000. Gross profit margins moved up to 76 percent from 73 percent in the first quarter.

    In the quarter, eBay posted online sales of $87.9 million, up 130 percent from the $38.2 million it recorded in the year-ago quarter.

    It hosted more than 62.5 million auctions in the quarter, up from 29.3 million in the same period last year. Gross merchandise sales surged to a record $1.3 billion, a 109 percent increase from the second quarter of 1999.

    Company officials said its registered user base jumped to 15.8 million in the quarter, up 183 percent from the 5.6 million users it held in the same period last year.

    Last quarter, eBay zipped past analysts' estimates, earning $8 million, or 6 cents a share, on sales of $85.8 million.

    Its shares hustled up to a 52-week high of 127 1/2 in March after falling to a low of 35 1/8 in August.

    Twenty-eight of the 31 analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

    First Call Corp. consensus expects it to earn 17 cents a share in the fiscal year.