Merrill Lynch

raised its 2001 earnings outlook for


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, a day after the online auction site beat Wall Street's expectations for the fourth quarter.

The firm raised eBay's revenue projection for 2001 to $660 million from $627 million and increased its earnings forecast to 37 cents a share from 35 cents. Merrill said the increased estimates reflect continued strong momentum, price increases and an acquisition.

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Shares of eBay were up $3.31, or 7%, to $50.25 in recent



Yesterday, eBay checked in with

earnings of 9 cents a share in the fourth quarter, 2 cents above Wall Street's estimates. "(The) results were especially impressive in light of a weak retailing environment in Q4," Merrill wrote in a research note.

Merrill said eBay's stock remains expensive, but should be "solid" through the first quarter, the company's strongest seasonal quarter. The firm said the stock is likely to sag in the spring and summer, but will have a strong finish to the year.