LinkedIn’s Strong Business Model Guarantees Strong Earnings to Come

LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) reports earnings after the bell today, but despite a strong winning streak that has held up since the company first went public in May 2011, shares are down more than 2 percent at mid-day.

LinkedIn has consistently beaten expectations for all the key metrics — earnings, revenues, profits, etc. — and Wall Street is expecting another such beat when it reports fourth-quarter results this afternoon. And for the most part, investors are expecting equally stellar results. Shares hit a new high of $127.45 in late January, and are trading only a few dollars shy of that point today after rising in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

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Today’s decline is just a fairly normal correction that often accompanies a power-house stock that’s climbed very high, very fast. In less than two years, the stock has rocketed from its IPO price of $45 per share to roughly three times that figure. Those who bought in early are smiling now, and will likely still be smiling come 4 o’clock, when LinkedIn is expected to post adjusted earnings of 19 cents per share on revenue of $280 million.

After all, the company already gave a positive indication of growth earlier this year when it announced that it had surpassed 200 million account-holders for the first time. That’s more than double the total at its IPO, and up from 187 million members at the end of September…

Of course, subscriber growth doesn’t always translate to cash. Just look at Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) struggles over the past year. Its IPO was absolutely traumatizing as shares more than halved in the coming weeks on very real concerns about its valuation. That’s because, despite being the most popular social networking site in the world — with accounts for roughly one-sixth of the global population — the company was having serious monetization issues. Advertising can only bring in so much.

Here’s where LinkedIn has Facebook beat. While it does derived a share of revenues from advertising, the company makes most of its money by selling subscriptions to employers, headhunters, and others, giving them broader access to its database, putting a massive network of professionals at their fingertips. For those willing to shell out some cheddar, finding the perfect employee for a job has never been simpler. And professionals will keep coming to the site in droves because it gives them connections to a broad network of employers, helping them find business opportunities they might never have discovered without LinkedIn.

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