LinkedIn’s 2Q impresses Street, stock climbs
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — LinkedIn’s online professional networking service is still doing a good job of pleasing investors.
Wall Street gave LinkedIn its latest endorsement Thursday, driving the Mountain View, California, company’s shares up by more than 7 percent after it released its second-quarter results.
The performance burnished the impressive resume that LinkedIn has put together since going public two years ago. The company has delivered earnings and revenue above the analysts’ projections that guide investors in all nine of its quarters as a publicly traded company.
LinkedIn supplemented that accomplishment by adding 20 million more registered users during the three months ending in June. That’s the service’s biggest membership gain in any quarter since LinkedIn’s initial public stock offering in May 2011.
The networking service has thrived by establishing itself as the go-to place for employers to find talented workers and for people to get job tips and other advice to manage their careers. It doesn’t cost anything for people to set up a personal profile anchored by their resume. The company makes most of its money by charging employers, headhunters and perpetual job seekers fees to gain additional access to its member’s profiles and other data.
Some of those fees were raised in the second quarter, a change that should give a lift to LinkedIn’s revenue.
Subscriptions and fees accounted for three-fourths of LinkedIn’s revenue in the second quarter, with the rest coming from advertising.
The company is also trying to boost its advertising sales by allowing more commercial messages to be displayed within its users’ feeds, much like Facebook does on its social network.
Although LinkedIn remains much smaller and less profitable than Facebook, the professional networking company is delivering much bigger returns to shareholders than its peer in social networking.
The strong financial and membership growth in the past quarter is likely to catapult LinkedIn’s high-flying stock to new heights Friday. The shares rose $16.05, or 7.5 percent, to $229.05 in Thursday’s extended trading. That is more than five times LinkedIn’s IPO price of $45.
By comparison, Facebook is hovering around its IPO price of $38.
LinkedIn earned $3.7 million, or 3 cents per share, during the quarter, from $2.8 million, or 3 cents per share, last year. The earnings-per-share figure didn’t change because the company has slightly more stock outstanding this year.
If not for certain items unrelated to its ongoing business, LinkedIn said it would have earned 38 cents per share. That topped the average estimate of 31 cents per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet.
Revenue surged by 59 percent to $364 million — about $10 million above analysts’ predictions.
LinkedIn ended June with 238 million members, up from 218 million in March. Until the past quarter, LinkedIn’s biggest three-month gain in membership had been 16 million.
Many of the new members are coming from outside the U.S., according to LinkedIn. The company said nearly two-thirds of its membership is in international markets.
Like many other digital services, LinkedIn is increasingly relying on its applications for smartphones and tablets to attract visitors and create more opportunities to sell ads. The company said mobile devices delivered 33 percent of its second-quarter traffic, up from 21 percent a year ago.
As part of its effort to sell more ads, LinkedIn has been adding more material from outside contributors to give members a reason to visit its website more frequently and linger for longer periods. The second-quarter growth indicated that push is paying off. About 11.7 billion pages were viewed on LinkedIn’s service during the second quarter, a 5 percent increase from the opening three months of this year.
The company’s management forecast revenue of $367 million to $373 million in the current quarter, which ends in September. That’s below the average analyst estimate of $384 million. Its revenue forecast for the year is also short of Wall Street’s view.
Analysts have been raising the bar on the theory that LinkedIn lowballs its financial guidance in an effort to make it easier to surpass the quarterly estimates.