Analyst: eBay top holiday console retailer?

Lazard Capital Markets releases October NPD expectations, expects online auction house to do big business on new systems.

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In recent years, console launches have been predictably accompanied by a handful of stories. There's the "people waited in line for days" story, the "launch day theft" story, and the "console fetches ridiculous prices on eBay" story. That last story has become so common that one analyst today told investors eBay could be the biggest seller of new systems this holiday season.

In a note detailing his expectations of the industry-tracking NPD Group's US sales figures for October, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian predicted that "eBay may emerge as the No. 1 new console retailer this holiday." Sebastian said his research had already found more than 2,000 completed auctions for preorders of the new PlayStation 3 and Wii, with both systems selling for about 250 percent of their suggested retail price. The $599 PS3 is fetching an average of $1,500, according to Sebastian, while the $249 Wii is typically going for about $550.

As for the NPD October tallies, Sebastian expects US console sales to be up between 15 percent and 20 percent, a more reserved point of view than that expressed last week by Pacific Crest Securities analyst Evan Wilson. With last October's game sales tallying up to $365 million, Sebastian's expected tally falls somewhere between $420 million and $438 million.

Sebastian also noted that retailers scaled back their preholiday orders last year as current-gen software declined in advance of the Xbox 360 launch. However, he hasn't seen the same caution from them this year, calling the handheld sector "healthy" and the PS2 market "resilient." He pegged Splinter Cell Double Agent, Madden NFL 07, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07, FIFA 07, Bully, and Scarface as games among the month's biggest movers.

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