StubHub: EBay’s Ticket to Growth

Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal:

More than a year after parting ways with PayPal, eBay has a new growth driver in the spotlight

EBay Inc.’s turnaround without PayPal Inc. is taking shape with a new growth driver in the spotlight: StubHub.

More than a year after parting with its payments subsidiary, eBay took its time showing that it can thrive as an independent company. Its overall sales have risen for two consecutive quarters, a trend that Wall Street expects will continue Wednesday when the e-commerce giant reports third-quarter results. Part of that can be attributed to ticket reseller StubHub’s recent success.

Analysts polled by FactSet estimate adjusted earnings of 44 cents a share, up a penny from eBay’s year-ago results. Revenue is expected to have increased 4.1% to $2.19 billion. StubHub is anticipated to account for 11% of eBay’s quarterly revenue, up from 8% during 2015.

EBay only started breaking out StubHub’s results following last year’s fourth quarter. In the first half of the year, StubHub’s revenue increased 37% from a year earlier, far surpassing the mid-single-digit growth for eBay overall. StubHub said earlier this year that it acquired Ticketbis, a Spanish competitor, to expand its overseas presence. It also reached a deal to resell New York Yankees tickets.

StubHub’s strong growth comes as eBay continues to refashion itself as more of an online marketplace and less of a platform just for buying and selling used goods. That has yielded mixed results, with eBay facing heavy competition from Inc. and other e-commerce platforms. EBay also is investing more in how its online marketplace is organized, focusing on so-called structured data. And it is working to improve its search functionality with the goal of boosting its standing in Google search results.

In July, eBay reported a small uptick in active buyers and its biggest gain in U.S. merchandise volumes since 2014—trends analysts expect to continue. It raised full-year earnings and sales outlooks, prompting its shares to surge 11% that day, one of its biggest gains over the past five years.

A cash cow, eBay remains an ardent buyer of its own stock. Even as the stock has surged 30% in a year, it fetches a modest 15 times projected earnings over the next 12 months. More gains could be in store.