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LinkedIn drops after sales forecast trails estimates

February 7, 2014

LinkedIn Corp forecast sales that trailed analysts' estimates, pushing the stock down as much as 8.7 per cent in early trading, as growth slows in all three of the professional-networking site's businesses.

First-quarter revenue will be $455 million to $460 million, the Mountain View, California-based company said on Thursday in a statement. Analysts on average projected sales of $469.4 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

LinkedIn, whose shares have more than quadrupled since the company's 2011 initial public offering, is headed for its fifth straight quarter of decelerating sales growth.

To expand its potential revenue base, LinkedIn is seeking to reach workers overseas, add mobile features and make acquisitions. The company said on Thursday that it bought Bright Media Corp, an analytics company that helps match candidates with the right employers, for about $120 million in cash and stock. "LinkedIn is continuing to grow, but that growth is slowing because of a scaling up of the business," said Steve Weinstein, an analyst at ITG Investment Research. "As you get bigger, it gets harder and harder to find a lever that can be material to growing your business."

The shares fell seven per cent to $207.79 at 6:55am before the market opened after rising 4.2 per cent to $223.45 on Thursday, before the release.

Net income dropped 67 per cent in the fourth quarter to $3.78 million, or 3 cents a share, from $11.5 million, or 10 cents, a year earlier, the company said. Sales in the period jumped 47 per cent to $447.2 million, exceeding the $437.6 million average analyst estimate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Based on the midpoint of its first-quarter forecast, revenue this period will increase about 41 per cent, down from 72 per cent growth in the same period a year earlier.

Membership climbed 37 per cent to 277 million from 202 million a year ago, when the number of users increased by 39 per cent.

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Source: Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates)

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