eBay 4Q Profit Falls

San Jose, Calif. eBay's fourth-quarter earnings fell 31%, indicating that its Internet auctions and "Buy It Now" offerings are, like its traditional retail counterparts, being hurt by the recession.

eBay said it earned $367 million in the quarter, down from $531 million for the same time frame a year ago. Revenue fell 6% to $2.04 billion.

Sales from eBay's marketplace segment — which includes eBay, Shopping.com, StubHub and other e-commerce sites — fell 15% to $1.27 billion.

Sales from eBay's marketplace segment — which includes eBay, Shopping.com, StubHub and other e-commerce sites — fell 15% to $1.27 billion.

In the company's PayPal unit, which handles online payments for eBay and other sites, revenue climbed almost 11% to $623 million.

The company's number of active users — an important measure of how well eBay is attracting new buyers and sellers — rose almost 4% to 86.3 million.

However, eBay's gross merchandise volume — the total amount of money that flows from transactions on the site, excluding those involving vehicles — sank 12% to $11.5 billion. This marked the second quarter in a row in which this metric has dropped. Until last year, eBay never experienced declines in this category.

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