EBay Falls on Growth Slowdown as Consumers Curbed Outlays

EBay Inc., operator of the world’s largest online marketplace, fell the most in more than four months after Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird, said growth slowed in February as consumers curbed spending.

The shares declined 2.7 percent to $53.75 at 11:12 a.m. in New York, and earlier touched $53.44 for the biggest intraday decrease since Oct. 15. Through yesterday, the stock had advanced 55 percent in the past year, compared with a 13 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Growth was in the “low teens” last month, compared with the same period a year earlier, Sebastian wrote in a research report today. Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe has been working to sustain a turnaround since he succeeded Meg Whitman in March 2008, pushing to generate more revenue from consumers shopping on tablets and smartphones, and from retailers that use EBay to sell their merchandise. That has resulted in 14 straight quarters of sales growth.

“Slower (low teens) growth may reflect combined monthly effects of a tougher comparison, consumer spending (e.g., higher taxes) and some deceleration in the auto parts category,” Sebastian wrote. He maintained his buy rating on the shares with a $60 price target.

EBay surged to an eight-year high in January after fourth-quarter revenue topped analysts’ estimates, helped by record holiday sales on the Web and mobile devices.

On Cyber Monday in November, at the beginning of last year’s holiday shopping season, transactions on EBay’s mobile applications more than doubled from the year before, while PayPal mobile-payment volume almost tripled. San Jose, California-based EBay charges a fee for each item sold, and for each PayPal transaction.

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