EBay (EBAY) - Get Report is set to report its fourth-quarter earnings after the close of trading on Wednesday, and analysts are waiting impatiently for the company's turnaround efforts to start showing results.
Analysts are expecting quarterly revenue of $2.3 billion, with earnings of 50 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters. Last year, eBay's management forecast 0% to 5% foreign exchange-neutral, year-over-year growth in gross merchandise value (GMV) in 2016.
In October, eBay reported third-quarter earnings of 43 cents a share on revenue of $2.1 billion.
EBay has been struggling to turn around results after getting hit by a 2014 security breach and algorithm changes at Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Report Google. Its same-store sales have been continuously declining, according to e-commerce service provider ChannelAdvisor.
During the holiday season this year, usually one of the busiest times for retailers, eBay's same-store sales were up only 4.8% over the previous year's holiday season. Same-store sales at Amazon, (AMZN) - Get Report by comparison, were up 16.8%. For the fourth quarter as a whole, eBay's year-over-year same-store sales growth was 3.1%, compared to growth of 3.4% in the third quarter and 6.5% in the second quarter.
On top of the disappointing numbers, eBay has also been losing other key support -- Carl Icahn swapped all of his eBay shares for PayPal (PYPL) - Get Report shares in November, Goldman Sachs dropped eBay from its Conviction Buy List, and Martha Stewart ditched the platform for Handmade at Amazon. EBay has been trying to convince investors that with PayPal and its enterprise business no longer on its plate, the company can focus on its core business. But the results have yet to show.
(PayPal is an Action Alerts Plus holding, a charitable trust managed by Jim Cramer.)
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Here's what analysts are saying in advance of Wednesday's report:
Youssef Squali, Cantor Fitzgerald (Hold, $27 price target)
"We expect 4Q:15 results to come in line with muted Street expectations, given the declining auction business, reduced search traffic as the company transitions to structured data, and FX headwinds, all of which looks likely to weigh down Marketplaces' growth.
"We expect continued underperformance of Marketplaces relative to overall e-commerce, largely due to reduced traffic from organic search and the company's ongoing transition to structured data in order to improve search traffic over time.
"We would expect management to reiterate its 0-5% FX-neutral growth in GMV in 2016, but also provide an update on turnaround efforts, and progress on the various initiatives aimed at driving sustainable top-line growth longer term. Other important topics include use of cash, and an update on the company's share buyback authorization of $3B."
Colin W. Gillis, BGC (Hold, $29 price target)
"Haiku: In a market that/ is growing 15 percent/ eBay is shrinking.
"Shares of eBay are down 4% year-to-date as the company is in the process of turning around its marketplace business. This is the first full quarter that eBay will report since the spin off of PayPal, and is a showcase for the new management team to discuss changes to the business model and platform, including using structured data to make products easier to discover, which should improve traffic to the site and ultimately drive purchase conversions.
"We are generally positive on eBay's asset-light business model, its deep product selection and value-based selections, but the metrics we expect the company to post in the December quarter, with modest revenue and merchandise value (GMV) decline, materially lag an industry that is growing in the United States at approximately 15% year-over-year per ComScore. We also expect the company is going to be negatively impacted by foreign exchange, and do not see the 2016 outlook as an upward catalyst for the stock. We look to see signals that GMV growth is ready to accelerate before turning more positive on the company."
Daniel L. Kurnos, Benchmark (Buy, $29 price target)
"Shares of eBay have almost retraced to their pre-3Q15 level given the recent market pullback and concerns over global growth. We noted back then that investor expectations for eBay were underwhelming, and while consensus has increased modestly, we think sentiment remains markedly tepid. We acknowledge that eBay has been more susceptible to global pullbacks than larger rival Amazon, but note that International GMV faces an easy comparison with flat growth in 4Q14, while domestic e-commerce results for the holiday period came in better than feared.
"While the risk/reward profile may be less compelling than last quarter, at 9.5x 2016E EV/EBITDA, shares aren't particularly expensive, with fundamentals on track for accelerating growth over the next several quarters and shares supported by a steady buyback program.
"EBay's core ebay.com website is one of the premier e-commerce properties in the world. The revitalization of the ebay.com website has allowed eBay to compete in an increasingly crowded marketplace even despite ongoing declines in legacy Auction revenue. While the Marketplaces segment has more recently experienced decelerating growth, we expect to see improving results over the next 18 months."
Steve Weinstein, ITG
"We expect Q4 revenue above consensus and management's guidance. While Q4 growth is an improvement over previous quarters, we continue to view core eBay growth as disappointing when compared to other e-commerce companies. We believe the sustained underperformance reflects confused brand identity and an inability to provide a compelling experience for buyers and sellers. However, we are seeing a turnaround at StubHub, which should provide tailwinds to eBay's growth in Q4 '15 and into 2016.