ONLINE COMMERCE

Higher profit for eBay amid the pandemic

EBay raised its forecast for revenue and earnings in the current quarter as people flock to the online marketplace amid the coronavirus pandemic that has left most physical stores shuttered for more than two months.

EBay said it now expects sales of as much as $2.8 billion in the second quarter, up from a previous forecast for as much as $2.48 billion. In a filing the company said it sees adjusted earnings per share of as much as $1.06, up from 80 cents previously.

More people are being drawn to eBay’s marketplace across a wide variety of categories, from home and garden to electronics, fashion and auto parts, eBay said. The site drew about 6 million new and reactivated buyers in April and May. Tens of thousands of small-business sellers have also used the platform since March.

EBay earlier this year named former Walmart executive Jamie Iannoneas chief executive officer. Activist investors Elliott Management Corp. and Starboard Value have been pushing eBay to increase profitability by selling pieces of itself following years of stagnation in its core marketplace business.

The company in February completed the sale of its event-tickets marketplace StubHub to Viagogo for $4.05 billion and is exploring options for the classifieds business. EBay is also trying to boost revenue from its advertising and payments businesses. In the statement, eBay said revenue from its classifieds business is at the high end of its previously disclosed expectations, with automotive subscription revenue recovering as dealerships reopen across international markets.

— Bloomberg News

FINANCIAL INDUSTRY

Schwab wins approval to buy TD Ameritrade

Charles Schwab won U.S. antitrust approval to buy rival TD Ameritrade Holding, a $26 billion deal that further consolidates the brokerage industry.

Schwab said Thursday that the Justice Department approved the deal, which the company expects to close in the second half of the year.

Schwab estimates that integrating the businesses will take between 18 and 36 months following the close, it said.

The tie-up tightens Schwab’s grip on an industry it pioneered. The deal, which was announced in November, came after Schwab cut its trading commissions to zero, in a move that roiled the entire sector. The combination shows the rush to consolidate customers in an industry that’s become more competitive over time. Besides wiping out commissions, prices for investment products and advice are coming down.

The deal intensifies concentration in the industry. Smaller competitor E*Trade Financial sold itself to Morgan Stanley in February, marking the end of an era for stand-alone discount brokerages.

That deal won antitrust approval from the Justice Department in March.

The TD Ameritrade deal initially raised some antitrust concerns because it advances Schwab’s leading position as custodian for assets managed by financial advisers.

— Bloomberg News

Also in Business

American Airlines Group will boost July flights 74 percent from its current schedule as U.S. consumers freed from shelter-in-place orders rush back to flying more quickly than expected. The announcement boosted shares across the industry. The busiest days next month will have about 4,000 flights, up from 2,300 in June, said Vasu Raja, American's senior vice president of network strategy. The carrier plans to operate about 40 percent of 2019 capacity next month, according to a statement Thursday. That's up from 30 percent in June.

Bank of America agreed to pay $7.23 million in restitution and interest to settle a U.S. regulator's accusations that it overcharged customers on mutual funds. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra) said on Thursday that the accord resolves charges that defective procedures at the bank's Merrill Lynch unit caused customers holding 13,328 accounts to incur unnecessary sales charges and fees from April 2011 to April 2017.

— From news services