Online auction giant eBay enjoyed a good Christmas period, particularly in the UK and Germany, as fourth quarter earnings turned out to be higher than expected.

A rush to buy hard to find games consoles like the Wii and PS3 was one of the reasons given for the success, as total revenue for the last three months of 2006 reached $1.7bn, a 29% rise on the same period a year earlier.

The company’s net income rose to $346m, while overall sales reached $14.4bn – an increase of 20% from the same quarter last year. This follows a 10% rise in third quarter profits.

Revenues for 2007 were forecast by eBay to reach between $7.05bn to $7.30bn, with the online ticket reseller StubHub, which eBay acquired recently for $310 million, expected to contribute $120m in revenues this year.

Paypal, eBay’s online payment system, also recorded an increase in revenues, of 37%. Meanwhile, Skype’s revenues rose by 164% to $66m, compared with $25m for Q3.