Citigroup Smith Barney advised clients to sell
Monday due to slowing growth in its largest auction category, cars.
eBay's "motors" auction segment is currently "the world's largest used car marketplace," said analyst Lanny Baker, making up 35% to 40% of growth in the company's gross merchandise sales over the last two years. But the segment's gross merchandise sales amount to only 28% of overall growth.
Citing that, he cut eBay's rating to sell from hold.
A Citigroup Smith Barney survey of 150 used car dealers found that while 30% of U.S. used car dealers use eBay Motors, 40% of them "have found eBay's prices and auction format to be a drawback." Baker believes the pricing model may be difficult, noting it is different from the pricing models in other auction categories.
"We are skeptical of eBay Motors' ability to raise prices without broader pricing model changes," Baker said.
Based on historical valuation, Baker believes eBay's stock could fall 20% from current levels. Shares of the company were dropping $1.86, or 3.1%, to $58.60 in Instinet premarket trading.