eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) is a company in search of a purpose and a future. The auction website is making money, but it seems to have little or no direction.
Instead eBay is just cruising along and making money but doing nothing to improve its position. This raises serious questions about eBay’s ability to survive, even as it makes a little money for investors.
Is eBay making Money?
Okay, eBay is still very profitable these days, but its size and scope is miniscule when compared to Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN). Here is some proof; provided by our friends at ycharts, that eBay is still making money:
- $7.411 billion in net income on June 30, 2017. This number was a huge improvement over June 2016 when eBay’s net income was $1.933 billion. This alone makes a great value and contrarian investment, its’ income increased nearly sevenfold in 12 months.
- Raising its income by $5.478 billion over the past year. Note: the income growth might be reversing because eBay reported $7.819 billion in income in March 2017.
- Revenues of $9.157 billion on June 30, 2017. This is the figure that concerns me most about eBay, its’ revenues have been hovering at around $9 billion for a long time. Since June 2015 when they were $8.644 billion to be exact. There’s slow and steady growth, but no leaps and bounds.
- One problem the revenue numbers expose is that eBay is not sharing in the massive ecommerce boom that companies like Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and Amazon are enjoying. Another is that eBay lacks some of the sources of profit those companies tap such as Amazon Web Services.
- A free cash flow of $517 million on June 30, 2017. This is a good number for an enterprise with $9.157 billion in revenues.
- Cash and short-investments of $9.017 billion on June 30, 2017. This figure was great it was $931 million more than the $8.086 billion reported in June 2016.
- Assets of $27.48 billion on June 30, 2017. This was a tremendous increase over June 2016 when eBay’s assets were $19.99 billion.
- $85 million in cash from financing.
- Cash from operations of $2.703 billion on June 30, 2017. This was the most worrying figure because it has falling for some time. Back in June 2016, eBay reported $3.13 billion in cash from operations, in June 2015 the number was $5.316 billion, and in June 2014 it was $5.715 billion.
- The dramatic drop in cash from operations demonstrates that eBay’s business model might not be sustainable. The company’s cash from operations has fallen by $3.1 billion over three years. Another two years that and it will be operating at a serious loss.
- A market capitalization of $38.63 billion on August 9, 2017.
- An enterprise value of $41.37 billion on August 9, 2017.
- A profit margin of 1.16% on August 8, 2017.
Why I like eBay
There is one reason why I still like eBay as a value investment; it still has a lot of float and cash. This company’s business model might be as hot as Amazon’s but it’s still generating a vast amount of cash.
In particular I think eBay is in a great position to go acquiring. There are some interesting potential acquisitions for it out there; including Etsy (NASDAQ: ETSY) which had a market cap of $1.876 billion on August 9, 2017. Another is Overstock.com (NASDAQ: OSTK) – the big O had a market capitalization of $456.26 million on August 9, 2017.
There are also foreign markets to enter; India comes to mind, and untapped areas of ecommerce for eBay to mine. Some areas it might try would be insurance, appliances, business supplies, auto sales, and business services.
Why eBay might be the Best Contrarian Investment Out There
All this puts eBay in a good position for the future. It also makes it a great contrarian play. There’s also a good reason why eBay is one of the best contrarian investments around these days.
eBay investors were rewarded with a return on equity of 79.04% on June 30, 2017. That’s a tremendous level of growth that more than makes up for the lack of a dividend.
If you are looking for a good contrarian investment in retail and tech eBay, is a great choice. This humble auction site may not be flashy but it certainly makes a lot of money.