LinkedIn Forecasts Top Analysts’ Estimates as Ad Sales Surge; Shares Climb
LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD), the biggest professional-networking website, rose the most since November after it reported quarterly sales that more than doubled and forecast higher 2012 revenue, buoyed by advertising and subscriptions.
LinkedIn climbed 11 percent to $84.54 at 9:38 a.m. in New York trading, after touching $84.75 for the highest intraday percentage gain since Nov. 30.
Before today, the stock had surged 70 percent since its initial public offering in May. That’s a bigger gain than other social-media companies, including gaming company Zynga Inc. and daily-deal provider Groupon Inc. (GRPN), have posted since their own IPOs last year.
LinkedIn said membership jumped to more than 150 million from 131.2 million in the third quarter. LinkedIn is signing up more professionals for its subscription services and luring advertisers who want to reach the growing user base.
The fourth quarter “exceeded our expectations for member engagement and business growth,” Chief Executive Officer Jeff Weiner said in a statement.
Fourth-quarter revenue advanced to $167.7 million, the Mountain View, California-based company said in the statement yesterday. That topped the $159.8 million average analyst estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Sales this year will be $840 million to $860 million, LinkedIn said, compared with the $834.1 million prediction.
Hiring, Marketing Solutions
Net income in the fourth quarter rose to $6.92 million, or 6 cents a share, from $1.58 million, or 3 cents, a year earlier, the company said. Before some costs, profit was 12 cents a share. That beat the average analyst estimate of 7 cents.
Revenue (LNKD) in LinkedIn’s hiring solutions business more than doubled in the fourth quarter to $84.9 million. Sales in the marketing solutions unit increased 77 percent to $49.5 million, while revenue from premium subscriptions jumped 87 percent to $33.3 million.
The company may face increased competition from Facebook Inc., the world’s largest social-networking company, which filed for an IPO last week. BranchOut Inc., a San Francisco-based startup, is building a professional network on Facebook, taking advantage of Facebook’s 845 million users. BranchOut said this week that it has added more than 50 million members in the past two months.
To fend off rivals, LinkedIn is investing for growth. Sales and marketing costs in the last three months of the year more than doubled to $53.2 million, while LinkedIn’s product development expenses climbed to $42.1 million.
In the fourth quarter, sales in the U.S. were $112 million, representing 67 percent of total revenue, the same percentage as in the third quarter.
LinkedIn forecast first-quarter revenue of $170 million to $175 million, compared with analysts’ $170.5 million average estimate.
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