LinkedIn earnings beat expectations

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Even as stocks around the globe plunged in the worst sell-off since 2008, LinkedIn Corp. bucked expectations, delivering second-quarter earnings that crushed Wall Street estimates and buoyed hopes for a promising new generation of Internet companies.

LinkedIn’s revenue more than doubled as membership surged, the company reported Thursday in its first update since its splashy initial public offering in May. LinkedIn also posted a second-quarter profit rather than the loss analysts had anticipated.


LinkedIn is the first high-profile U.S. social networking company to sell shares to the public. Its shares have more than doubled from the IPO price of $45. It’s being closely watched as valuations of hot privately held companies such as Facebook soar, triggering fears that Internet companies could be headed for a crash like the one that happened a decade ago.

But its first quarterly report as a publicly traded company bode well for the upcoming IPOs from Zynga Inc. and Groupon Inc.

LinkedIn made more money in the second quarter than in any other in its 8-year history. Sales soared to $121 million as membership climbed 61% to 116 million.

LinkedIn earned $4.5 million, or 4 cents a share, up from $938,000, or 2 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Profit excluding certain costs was $10.8 million, or 10 cents a share.

LinkedIn said revenue in the third quarter would be $121 million to $125 million. Analysts had predicted 113.9 million. For the year, LinkedIn expects revenue to climb as high as $485 million, about double $243 million in 2010.

Is all this smooth sailing about to get rougher? In an interview with Fortune magazine, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner shrugged off the effect of global woes on his company’s business.

‘As a platform that connects talent with opportunity at massive scale, we are in a position where we can help the people that most need it right now. Clearly given the macroeconomic conditions there’s a lot of anxiety out there -- people out of work and looking for work. This is where our vision to create economics opportunity for every professional comes in to play,’ he said.

But that is one of the key issues facing LinkedIn: Can it keep up the torrid growth if the economy collapses?


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-- Jessica Guynn