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Ahead of the Bell: LinkedIn rises on 3Q results

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of LinkedIn Corp. advanced in premarket trading Friday after the professional networking company posted strong third-quarter results. Analysts from two investment firms raised their price targets for the company's stock.

LinkedIn reported its third-quarter results after the market closed on Thursday. Its net income was about twice as much as analysts expected, and its sales grew 81 percent and surpassed Wall Street estimates by about $7 million.

The company raised its adjusted income and revenue estimates, saying it now expects $939 million to $944 million in revenue for the year, up from $915 million to $925 million.

FactSet says analysts expected LinkedIn to report $930.4 million in revenue for the year.

LinkedIn shares rose $8.88, or 8.3 percent, to $115.73 in premarket trading. The shares had gained about 70 percent through Thursday's close in 2012, peaking at $125.50 on Sept. 14.

Jefferies & Co. analysts Brian Pitz and Brian Fitzgerald said all three of LinkedIn's businesses did well: talent solutions revenue nearly doubled as the company won new corporate customers and enterprise clients spent more, marketing solutions page views and ad prices increased, and premium subscription growth improved. The analysts said LinkedIn reported strong growth in Europe and Asia despite the weak economies in those regions.

The Jefferies analysts kept a "Buy" rating on LinkedIn shares and raised their price target to $150 per share from $142.

Citi Investment Research analyst Neil Doshi also reiterated a "Buy" rating and raised his target to $135 per share from $125.

"LinkedIn is benefiting from secular growth, a very nicely diversified biz model, and market share gains," he wrote.

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