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EBay Traffic Falls for Ninth Straight Month, Study Says

From Bloomberg News

EBay Inc. drew 5% fewer visitors to its U.S. auction website in March, the ninth consecutive monthly decline, according to ComScore Networks Inc., a Reston, Va.-based company that measures Internet use.

The number of visitors dropped to 65.9 million last month from 69.7 million a year earlier, ComScore said.

The decrease capped a quarter in which EBay missed analysts’ profit estimates for the first time and its chief executive considered leaving. EBay’s shares fell 36% during the period, the biggest quarterly decline in four years.

“Everybody has a lot of respect for their business, but there are some issues out there,” said Dave Hutchison, an analyst at Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Insight Capital Research & Management.

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Insight sold its EBay holdings in January after the online auctioneer’s fourth-quarter profit was short of estimates and it cut its first-quarter forecast.

EBay, which reports earnings Wednesday, forecast Jan. 19 that first-quarter net income would rise to as much as 33 cents a share from 30 cents a year earlier.

Shares of San Jose-based EBay rose 20 cents Thursday to $32.99 on Nasdaq, after hitting a 52-week low on Wednesday.

EBay on Jan. 12 announced a fee increase for certain sellers by as much as 60%. Some sellers said they moved a part of their sales to the company’s rivals, such as Amazon.com Inc. and Overstock.com Inc.

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