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eBay Earnings: 3 Metrics to Watch

Daniel Sparks, The Motley Fool

One tech giant poised to report second-quarter results next week is online marketplace eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY). The company is scheduled to report results for the period after market close on Wednesday, July 18.

With eBay stock declining about 10% since management provided weaker-than-expected guidance for its third quarter, shareholders will be hoping the company can prove its growth story is here to stay. The company has been implementing efforts to transform its customer experience and refine its brand. But the multiyear transformation has failed to impress investors recently.

Ahead of eBay's second-quarter results, here are three metrics investors will want to watch when the company reports earnings.

eBay offices in San Jose, California

eBay offices in San Jose, California. Image source: eBay.

1. Active buyer growth

Year-over-year growth in active buyers decelerated from 5% growth in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 4% growth in the first quarter of 2018. While the deceleration was small, it was the first time quarterly active buyer growth dipped below 5% since the fourth quarter of 2016.

During eBay's first-quarter earnings call, management said the deceleration was driven by headwinds in its Korea market and on its core eBay platform. For Korea, management said the company was simply up against a tough year-over-year comparison in the year-ago quarter. However, challenges on its core eBay platform may be more concerning. Management said it had trouble retaining some buyers making small transactions.

But management is working to reverse this trend of decelerating growth in active buyers.

"Growing active buyers remains an important focus for us," explained eBay CFO Scott Schenkel during the company's first-quarter earnings call, "and as we expect, many of our efforts, including brand advertising and our new user experiences, [will] drive more active buyer growth over the long term."

Investors should look for eBay's active buyer growth to at least remain at 4% in the second quarter. eBay's softer-than-expected revenue guidance suggests management anticipates its efforts to reverse decelerating active buyer growth will take some time.

2. Revenue growth

Another key item to watch will be eBay's revenue growth. In the first quarter, revenue increased 12% year over year, or 7% on a foreign-exchange-neutral basis. For its second quarter, management said it expects revenue between $2.64 billion and $2.68 billion, representing foreign-exchange-neutral growth of 6% to 8%. The guidance was below the consensus analyst estimate at the time for second-quarter revenue of about $2.69 billion.

While the midpoint of eBay's guidance range suggests the company can deliver the same growth it did in the first quarter, shareholders may be getting anxious to see more signs that the company's recent efforts to revamp the customer experience are starting to pay off. Therefore, investors may want to look for revenue growth at the high end of the company's guidance range.

3. Share repurchases

Last, investors may want to watch to see whether eBay ramped up its share repurchases. Given eBay's lower stock price over the last few months, management had an opportunity to buy back its stock at a lower price. Heightened levels of repurchases during the quarter would suggest eBay believes shares are undervalued at these levels.

eBay repurchased $1 billion worth of stock during the first quarter and ended the quarter with $6.6 billion of its share-repurchase authorization remaining.

Overall, investors should expect more of the same from the company's growth trajectory in the second quarter. At the same time, though, investors should look for eBay to show signs that efforts to revamp its customer experience are beginning to gain traction.

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Daniel Sparks has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends eBay. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.