LinkedIn Corp (LNKD): Data Looks Strong Heading Into Earnings, But

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LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) releases its next earnings report on Thursday, and so far, things look good, at least according to the data examined by Citi analysts. However, they maintained their Neutral rating on the company’s stock because of its valuation.

So far, so good for LinkedIn

Citi analysts Mark May, Kevin Allen and Nathaniel Brogadir updated their tracker for January. They’ve found that there’s a more than 99% correlation between LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD)’s Hiring Solutions division revenue, which makes up 57% of the social network’s total revenue and is the largest segment. Here’s a look at the correlation between these numbers, and it does suggest that LinkedIn’s numbers should be solid in Thursday’s report (according to the December data) and through now in the current quarter.

LInkedin jobs

According to their data, the number of job postings on LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD)’s site rose 51% year over year in January, which was a slight acceleration from the 47% growth noted in December. However, it is still a year over year deceleration. The Citi team also found that the number of companies hiring on LinkedIn rose 45% in January, also a slight pick-up from the 41% growth noted in December. However, once again this is still a slight deceleration from the four quarters in 2013.

LinkedIn remains richly valued

For the fourth quarter of 2013, the Citi team estimates that LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) will report $246 million in Hiring Solutions revenue. In the current quarter, they’re forecasting $267 million in revenue for the division. They’re expecting to see earnings per share of 39 cents for the December quarter and $1.61 per share for the full year.

Because of their data, Citi analysts are still bullish on LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD). They also like the social network’s record of execution and its fundamentals in general. However, they see the current valuation of 12 times calendar 2014 year revenue and 44 times calendar year 2014 EBITDA as being too high. As a result, they have maintained their Neutral rating on LinkedIn.

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