The business-focused networking site of record, LinkedIn, rode a wave of growth through 2012, turning itself into a Wall Street darling in the process. The race to win the professional networking market isn’t really “a race” anymore, as LinkedIn dominates online networking for the world’s working professionals, now over 200 million users-strong. Oh, and it’s adding an average of two users per second.
With growth continuing, LinkedIn has consistently outperformed expectations over the last three quarters, so this time around, expectations are high. The consensus estimate for revenues in the fourth quarter has been $280 million, up 68 percent from the same period last year. Meanwhile, adjusted earnings has been forecast at 19 cents per share, compared to 12 cents for Q4 2011.
As such, the consensus has been that it would be a tall order for LinkedIn to beat the Street again. But the company managed to surpass expectations yet again, reporting fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.35 and revenue of $304 million. Net income, too, increased for the quarter.
This is all the more impressive considering the fact that LinkedIn has continued to invest heavily in its business, launching a new API to make it easier for advertisers to run large-scale social marketing campaigns and for developers to build customized tools for those campaigns. In October, it launched a massive overhaul of its pillar product — the Profile — and followed with big upgrades for its mobile apps, the addition of notification features, among others.
But it’s not all smooth sailing for LinkedIn. Depending on whom you ask, Facebook Graph Search is either a big threat to LinkedIn, Google and Yelp — with users set to flock away from LinkedIn Answers, or it’s just a red herring.