eBay issues dividend in face of activist shareholder activity

In the face of circling activist investors, eBay Inc reported ‘record’ earnings in its 4th quarter and its first ever dividend to shareholders.

Sales at eBay grew by 6.3% to $2.88bn in Q4. Analysts expected it to hit $2.86bn.

Net income was $736 million. Last year it had losses of $2,6bn thanks to taxes.

In light of this it said it expected full year revenue to rise between one and three per cent to between $10.7 bn and $10.9 bn.

A new activist shareholder, Elliot Management, has recently bought a 4% stake in eBay for $1.4bn. The Hedge Fund then called on eBay to divest StubHub, its ticket selling platform as well as the UK classifieds site Gumtree that the investor says aren’t core business activities.

“We delivered record earnings for the fourth quarter and full year 2018,” chief executive Devin Wenig said.

“In 2019, our focus will be on further improvements to the Ebay user experience, while pursuing significant long-term growth opportunities in advertising and payments.

“We are confident in the strength of our business and future growth prospects, as demonstrated by our decision to institute eBay’s first-ever dividend and increase our share repurchase program.”

Thought to be a reaction to pressure from its new activist investors, eBay said it is repurchased $1.5 billion of its common stock during the quarter, adding that it plans to “return approximately $7 billion to shareholders through dividends and repurchases over the next two years”.

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