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It’s an eBay World After All

If the volume of business on eBay is any indication, then the old saw “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” seems to have global resonance. Among the many fascinating tidbits in last night’s CNBC special on the company was this staggering statistic: with 135 million customers, eBay would qualify as the ninth most populous nation in the world. This year alone, all those sellers will list 1.8 billion items for auction, making it the mother of all yard sales. Last year, the company sold $40 billion worth of junk.

Among the stuff we learned last night: you can sell a grilled cheese sandwich with the likeness of the Virgin Mary on it, but don’t try peddling breast milk. And while sales in the U.S. are leveling off, CEO Meg Whitman says the company’s big growth will come from China. Every day, eBay adds 20,000 new customers in that country.

But all is not rosy in the world’s largest swap-meet. Sellers are up in arms over the company’s rising fees, others say eBay doesn’t do enough to monitor trading fraud. The stock is down more than 28 percent this year. Still, several analysts have recently upgraded their recommendation on the stock from hold or neutral to buy. We guess they’re betting that the Chinese appetite for barter will soon be as insatiable as that of the Germans’ and British and Americans’. Anyone for a fortune cookie with the image of Mao on it?

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