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EBay at a Quarter Century - Has It Lost Its Luster?

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Hard to believe, but eBay  (EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report is officially a millennial. 

The grand-daddy of online shopping will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2020 – and things are looking a lot different than in 1995, when AOL still reigned, beepers and faxing were all the rage and smartphones didn't exist.

Analysts haven't been kind to eBay of late, with the company receiving another downgrade on Thursday, this time from Jefferies analyst Brent Thill, who cut his recommendation to underperform from hold and lowered his one-year price target to $31 - roughly 13% below its current level. 


For starters, eBay has been suffering from systemically lower traffic on its platform – both sellers and buyers – which has more recently affected both its revenues and earnings, especially in its most recent quarter, where earnings in particular rang in roughly half from a year earlier.

What’s more, the company continues to be prodded by activist shareholders including Elliott Management and others to streamline its perceived bloated suite of additional offerings that aren’t part of its core business.

The one key offering that was part of eBay’s core business – PayPal PYPL – was split off by the company in 2015.

All this at a time when senior management changes are front and center. Former eBay executive David Doctorow will become CEO of News Corp.'s  (NWSA) - Get News Corporation Class A Report Move, operator of, on Feb. 3. 

Doctorow had served as head of global growth for eBay Marketplaces since 2016.

That follows eBay's announcement last September that President and CEO Devin Wenig was stepping down. Scott Schenkel, the company's senior vice president and chief financial officer, is currently interim CEO of eBay.

To be sure, eBay is not going anywhere. With $2 billion-plus in quarterly sales, the company remains a formidable online presence. Less clear, however, particularly for analysts, is where the company will be going next – and how it intends to get there.

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