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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1992 - March 06, 2009 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 4

Analysts to Grill eBay at Next Week's Investor Day

By Ina Steiner
March 06, 2009

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While eBay has talked up the growth of its online classifieds and advertising businesses, Wall Street seems focused on the challenges in the marketplaces business and when - not if - eBay will get rid of Skype. Analysts are also curious about Bill Me Later's performance and potential, an area eBay says it feels good about.

Next week eBay is hosting its first Investor Day in nearly three years, and the first under CEO John Donahoe. Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney wrote in a report about the upcoming meeting, "With the stock off 23% YTD after a 58% correction in 2008, there is a lot of concern/skepticism about eBay's near - and long-term growth prospects, margin opportunities, and competitive positioning."

Mahaney's top 10 questions for eBay Investor Day appear on the CitiGroup website (note that the URL links to a PDF file). Top on the list of questions are, what steps can eBay take to improve the Marketplace Buyer experience, and, what steps can eBay take to improve the Marketplace Seller experience?

Of auctions, Mahaney wrote in part, "The Auction format has been one of the key differentiating features of eBay's marketplace over the years. Moving sales away from this format is likely an admission by eBay that its differentiating feature is less relevant to today's Internet users than it was in the past. We believe this loss of Auction relevance is accurate. That said, we also believe that eBay will likely benefit for some time from hosting a vibrant, core Auction marketplace. The operating questions for eBay are: What is the right size for its Auction market? And how does eBay preserve this differentiating feature while still promoting Fixed Price sales?"

Collins Stewart's Sandeep Aggarwal also has questions for eBay. His 15 questions are available on Collins Stwart's website (also in PDF format). His top questions for Investor Day are, what are the current trends in E-Commerce vis-a-vis weak economy, and what is the progress on Marketplaces transformation to date vs. eBay's internal goals? Aggarwal said he would particularly like to know how the weak global economy is impacting the average order per active user, listing growth, ASPs, and listing conversion.

Aggarwal also wants to know more about eBay's relationship with Microsoft and the results of its participation in Microsoft's Live Search Cashback program.

Questions that analysts have continued to raise and will ask again at Investor Day are:

  • How is Bill Me Later performing?
  • When will eBay dump Skype? ("We were wrong, There are no synergies," Donahoe has confirmed, but said it is not a distraction.)
  • "What can eBay do with all that cash?" (Usually this is a call for eBay to issue dividends and an inquiry into planned acquisitions.)

See also, "eBay CEO John Donahoe at Goldman Sachs Conference" on the AuctionBytes Blog.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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