Earnings Reports for Jan. 18

EBay said it now has 22.5 million registered users, more than twice the 10 million it counted at the end of 1999. In the fourth quarter alone, users traded $1.6 billion worth of goods.

EBay was bullish on its 2001 outlook, saying its recent $120 million purchase of a majority stake in Internet Auction Co. Ltd., a South Korean online bidding site, likely will help push revenue toward $150 million in the current first quarter and $665 million for all of 2001.

In comparison, eBay's revenues for all of 2000 were $431.4 million, a 92 percent increase over 1999. Excluding the effect of one-time charges and stock-related expenses, the company earned $58.6 million, or 21 cents a share, in 2000, up from $18.3 million, or 7 cents a share, in 1999.

EBay also said this week it is increasing the fees sellers must pay to auction goods on the site, a move aimed at increasing profits and reducing some clutter.

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Recall, Lawsuits Hurt Ford

Ford Motor, the world's second-largest automaker, reported today a 33 percent drop in fourth-quarter operating earnings, largely due to weaker results from its core North American automotive operations.

Ford — struggling to settle lawsuits in the wake of the Bridgestone/Firestone tire recall — said it earned $1.2 billion, or 64 cents per share, in the quarter.

The results exclude one-time charges and the Visteon parts unit that was spun off last summer. Ford took a charge of $133 million, or 7 cents a share, in the quarter for a write-down of assets associated with the Nemak casting joint venture.

The earnings matched Wall Street forecasts of 64 cents a share, according to First Call/Thomson Financial. However, that was after Ford warned last month that weather-related losses in North America and parts shortages in Europe would cut about 10 cents from what was then an earnings estimate of 74 cents a share.

The company earned $1.8 billion, or 83 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of 1999, excluding a charge of $80 million, or 4 cents per share, for a lump sum payment associated with its union contract ratification.

Both the 2000 and the 1999 results were adjusted for Ford's $5.7 billion stockholder stock-cash swap.

Ford said its revenues fell 3 percent in the fourth quarter, to $42.6 billion from $43.9 billion a year earlier.

Ford Chief Executive Officer Jacques Nasser said the automaker will contend with difficult conditions in North America this year. "We will face softening U.S. market conditions in 2001," he said in a statement. "We are focused on improving our cost structure, bringing production in line with demand, generating positive cash flow, and delivering another year of strong financial results."

Despite the difficulties associated with Bridgestone/Firestone's recall of 6.5 million tires, most of which were fitted as standard equipment on Ford vehicles, Ford shares have outperformed those of rival General Motors, the world's No. 1 automaker, by about 32 percent in the past year.

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Microsoft Meets Lowered Expectations

Second-quarter profits at Microsoft Corp. rose 7 percent, meeting analysts' lowered expectations, though the software giant said it will fall short of third-quarter forecasts.

Shares of the company jumped 5 percent in after-hours trading.

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