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Article posted: 2/7/2013 5:01 PM

LinkedIn's 4Q results soar past Street views

By

SAN FRANCISCO -- Online professional-networking service LinkedIn's fourth-quarter performance added another line to its sterling resume as a public company.

The results announced Thursday extended LinkedIn Corp.'s uninterrupted streak of exceeding analysts' projections for both earnings and revenue. It marked the seventh consecutive quarter since LinkedIn's May 2011 IPO that the company has pulled that off, to the delight of investors.

The run of pleasant surprises is one of the reasons that LinkedIn's stock has tripled from its initial public offering price of $45. The shares surged $12.11, or nearly 10 percent, to $136.20 in extended trading after the numbers came out.

Wall Street's embrace of LinkedIn contrasts with the cold response given to other Internet services that have gone public during the past few years. Most of them are trading below their IPO prices. The most notable is Facebook Inc., whose stock is worth about 25 percent less than it was when it made its market debut in May.

Although both run websites devoted to connecting people with common interests, LinkedIn and Facebook are targeting different audiences. Facebook focuses mostly on letting friends and family share good times and swap stories, while LinkedIn concentrates on helping people advance their careers and helping companies fill jobs.

Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, is the larger of the two services, with more than 1 billion active users and $5.1 billion in revenue last year. LinkedIn, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., has 20 million accountholders and revenue of $972 million in 2012.

But LinkedIn is growing more quickly, partly because it's less dependent on advertising than Facebook and most Internet services. In the fourth quarter, advertising accounted for 27 percent of its revenue. The remainder comes from various tools that it sells to help recruit workers and glean more insights from the information that its users post on its website.

LinkedIn earned $11.5 million, or 10 cents per share, during the final three months of last year. That marked a 66 percent increase from $6.9 million, or 6 cents per share, a year earlier.

If not for the costs of employee stock compensation and certain other charges, LinkedIn said it would have earned 35 cents per share. That was far above the average estimates of 19 cents per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet. Analysts excluded certain items from their calculations.

Revenue soared 81 percent from the previous year to $304 million -- about $24 million above analyst forecasts.

LinkedIn's revenue outlook for the current quarter and all of 2013 were roughly in line with analyst estimates, setting the stage for the company to clear those financial bars once again.

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