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Ebay Earnings Show PayPal's Strength, Spin-Off Looms

eBay is at a cross-roads. On the one hand, the company is profitable, has a strong brand, and is growing on one side of the business. On the other hand, the core eBay platform has a number of challenges. The total company grew revenue by 9% last quarter, but PayPal did most of the heavy lifting. The eBay Marketplace grew volume by just 2% last quarter. Meanwhile, PayPal is firing on all cylinders. PayPal’s total payment volume soaring 24% in the first quarter. PayPal racked up nearly 19 million new active registered users last year.

The other major catalyst for investors to take note of is the impending spin off of the PayPal business. This is a critical step to create value for shareholders, since PayPal has been growing much faster than the overall company, but isn’t getting much credit for it. eBay trades for just 16 times forward earnings estimate, which is about on par with the broader market. This is despite the success of PayPal, the company’s most valuable asset. This is why a spin-off makes sense. PayPal and the eBay Marketplace are almost even in terms of revenue, so each company is big enough to survive on its own. Once PayPal trades as an independent entity, it will very likely enjoy a much higher valuation than the combined company does now. 

The company may not stop there. It may pursue additional avenues to create value. Spencer Soper at Bloomberg said "EBay also said it’s exploring options for its enterprise unit, including a sale or initial public offering." Stay tuned, eBay investors.