EBay Q4 Earnings Triple

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EBay Inc. reported its fourth-quarter profit more than tripled from the year-ago period, sidestepping the economic challenges faced by most retailers and e-commerce players.

The San Jose, CA, auction site said earnings were $87 million for the October to December period, from $25.9 million in the same fourth quarter of 2001. Fourth-quarter revenue was also up 89 percent to $413.9 million from the previous year.

As proof of its traction with consumers, eBay's 61.7 million registered users paid $4.6 billion in the fourth quarter for merchandised sold via its site. Volume was up 68 percent year-over-year, garnering eBay its steadily growing stream of sales commissions.

EBay's emphasis on higher-priced merchandise, like used cars, jewelry and apparel, helped propel growth last year. A $14 million television campaign also helped.

Bidders last year spent $14.9 billion on the site, up 60 percent from 2001. The company aims to reach $35 billion to $40 billion in the next three years by converting more consumers to online auctions. It will soon launch business-to-business auctions, allowing wholesale of lots to firms interesting in bidding on bulk merchandise.

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