LinkedIn Handily Beats Earnings Expectations, Guidance Not So Much

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LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) has managed to beat earnings expectations at every single quarterly earnings report. Now the social network for professionals has reported sales growth of 56% to $393 million. Earnings came in at a loss of -$3.4 million after items, but the comparable non-GAAP earnings measured by Wall Street came in at $46.8 million versus $25.1 million a year ago. This translates to $0.39 in earnings per share (EPS). Thomson Reuters had estimates of $0.32 EPS and $385.4 million in revenue.

LinkedIn also gave guidance of between $415 million and $420 million in revenue for the coming quarter with adjusted EBITDA between $98 million and $100 million. Thomson Reuters was calling for $0.40 EPS and $438.1 million in revenue. The question to ask is whether or not LinkedIn is under-promising to over-deliver or if this is a true disappointment on the revenue guidance.

U.S. sales totaled $245.3 million and represented 62% of total revenue. Field sales channels totaled $227.6 million and represented 58% of all sales. Revenue from the online, direct sales channel totaled $165.4 million, and represented 42% of total revenue.

LinkedIn membership grew 38% from a year ago and has surpassed 259 million members. The company also ended the quarter with almost $1.4 billion in cash and cash equivalents, plus another $876 million in short-term investments.

Shares of LinkedIn closed up 1.7% at $247.14 against a 52-week trading range of $94.75 to $257.56. Its market cap was $27.7 billion as of the close. The stock has been trying to figure out how to interpret the revenue guidance it seems, because shares have fluctuated after the report.

On last look the stock was up 1.6% in the after-hours session (4:14 p.m. EST).

UPDATE 4:19 p.m. EST: LinkedIn shares were down almost 2% on last look.

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