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EBay Auctions Four-Part Bond Deal as Yields Break Record Lows

By Patrick McGee EBay Inc. (EBAY) is auctioning at least $2 billion worth of debt in a four-part U.S. bond deal Thursday. This marks just the second time eBay has ever issued bonds. Its first deal, for $1.5 billion, was in October 2010. EBay should benefit from the lack of competition in this week's new-issue market. Yields are at record lows--Barclays's index of high-grade debt broke the 3% barrier for the first time in four decades of data on Wednesday when yields declined 0.07 percentage points to 2.98%--but issuance has been quiet with most companies focusing on releasing earnings. Thursday's sale comes a day after the e-commerce and payments company posted its fourth consecutive jump in quarterly profit. EBay said Wednesday its second-quarter revenue climbed 23% to $3.4 billion and profit more than doubled to $692 million from a year earlier. The San Jose, Calif., company intends to sell bonds across the yield curve, with bonds maturing in three, five, 10, and 30 years. The deal is "benchmark"-sized, according to an early term sheet, indicating at least $500 million per tranche. Market sources indicate the size could be $3 billion. The bonds carry provisional ratings of A2 from Moody's Investors Service and A from Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings. Scott Kimball, portfolio manager at the $7.3 billion BMO TCH Corporate Income Fund in Miami, noted that high-quality bond issuers have been getting an extremely welcome reception recently, with some trading at yields within half a percentage point of Treasurys. Toyota Motor Credit Corp. (TM) 0.875% coupon bonds due 2015, for instance, traded Thursday morning at a spread of just 0.47 percentage points. They were issued last week at a spread of 0.58 points. Ebay's 3.25% coupon, 2020 bond traded on July 13 with a spread of 0.75 points to Treasurys, yielding 2.248%, according to MarketAxess. "The bond market is expecting further economic deterioration and continued [Federal Reserve] action," Mr. Kimball said, mentioning the possibility for another round of monetary easing. Proceeds from eBay's sale are for general corporate purposes. Write to Patrick McGee at Subscribe to WSJ:

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