Meet the social network that Wall Street has befriended.
LinkedIn wasn't the initial public offering that got all the hype. But it has quietly become the social network that has consistently exceeded analysts' expectations.
The professional social networking company did it again Thursday when it beat Wall Street forecasts for its fourth-quarter financial results. Its shares, which closed down $1.68, or 1.3%, at $124.09, shot up 10% to $136.60 in after-hours trading. The stock has now tripled since its IPO price of $45 in May 2011.
"2012 was a transformative year for LinkedIn," LinkedIn Chief Executive Jeff Weiner said during a conference call with analysts.
Weiner credited new products for driving the company’s growth to 202 million members, its rising engagement with members and its record financial results.
LinkedIn has now exceeded Wall Street estimates for the seventh straight quarter.
The Mountain View, Calif., company earned $11.5 million, or 10 cents a share, during the fourth quarter. That was a 66% increase from $6.9 million, or 6 cents, in the year-earlier quarter. Revenue jumped 81% to $304 million.
The company forecast 2013 revenue of $1.41 billion to $1.44 billion. Analysts had expected $1.44 billion. LinkedIn also said it expected first-quarter revenue of $305 million to $310 million, easily surpassing estimates of $301 million.
"In typical LinkedIn fashion, management announced stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter results," Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Youssef Squali said.
He did note that "2013 guidance is mixed."
Often called the anti-Facebook, LinkedIn has succeeded where Facebook and other Internet newcomers have faltered. It's far smaller than Facebook, which has more than 1 billion users around the globe, but LinkedIn only depends on advertising for 27% of its revenue. The rest comes from tools it sells to help recruit new employees, premium subscription services and other revenue streams.