LinkedIn 1Q net, revenue soar; outlook falls short

Associated Press

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — LinkedIn Corp. continued its uninterrupted streak of beating analysts' expectations with its quarterly results on Thursday as earnings and revenue soared, but its outlook for the rest of the year disappointed Wall Street and its stock plunged in extended trading.

Shares of the online professional networking service fell $21.67, or 10.8 percent, to $180 after hours. The stock had closed above $200 for the first time after hitting a record high of $202.91 earlier in the day in anticipation of the results.

LinkedIn Corp. earned $22.6 million, or 20 cents per share, in the first quarter. That's up from $5 million, or 4 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. Adjusted earnings were 45 cents per share in the latest quarter, well above analysts' expectations of 30 cents.

Revenue grew 72 percent to $324.7 million from $188.5 million. Analysts, on average, had expected revenue of $317.6 million, according to a poll by FactSet.

LinkedIn went public in May 2011 at a share price of $45. Its stock has soared since as the company has consistently beat expectations with its results. As of Thursday's closing, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company's stock was up 75.6 percent year to date, compared with a 12 percent increase for the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

LinkedIn 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 professional profile on the site — the company makes most of its money by charging employers and headhunters for analytical tools and additional access to LinkedIn profiles and the site, such as the ability to send messages to users.

LinkedIn's forecast for the current quarter and the full year implied that its winning streak could end. The company said it expects revenue between $342 million and $347 million for the April-June period. Analysts had forecast $360 million.

For the full year, LinkedIn expects revenue of $1.43 billion to $1.46 billion, an increase of its previous guidance range by $20 million but still below analysts' forecast of $1.5 billion.

Another figure that likely gave investors pause is LinkedIn's EBITDA forecast, said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. The company expects this figure — earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — to be $330 million to $345 million for the full year, below analysts' expectations of $363 million.

LinkedIn said it has 225 million members, up from 202 million at the end of last year.

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