LinkedIn Corp Stock Rises After Analyst Upgrade

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LinkedIn shares climbed by nearly 2% to as high as $138.10 on Thursday after one analyst upgraded them and said they may skyrocket by as much as 20%. However, not all analysts recommend the stock, as another said he thinks the very thing that was once the social network’s strength and key tailwind is becoming a headwind.

LinkedIn upgraded by RBC

RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney said in a report dated June 8 that his recent Online Recruitment Survey and updated analysis of the market for LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions market indicate that the company is still well-positioned in “several large” total addressable markets. As a result, he upgraded the social network from Sector Perform to Outperform and raised his price target to a bullish $160 per share.

He surveyed 290 recruiting professionals in the U.S. and found that 45% of LinkedIn customers plan to increase their spending on the social network over the next 12 months, while 48% plan to keep it the same and 7% plan to reduce their spending. Further, he found that 78% of customers described themselves as “completely,” “extremely,” or “very” satisfied. LinkedIn also has the highest satisfaction rating among competition with 62% of customers describing it as “extremely” or “very” useful, against 59% or Indeed or 49$ for CareerBuilder. Mahaney added that this is the first time LinkedIn took the top position in satisfaction.

LinkedIn versus Indeed

The analyst added that comScore also indicates that LinkedIn still leads the way in growth of unique visitors and minutes compared to other recruiting or career-focused online platforms. As of April, the social network had 122 million multi-platform visitors, which was nearly triple the amount of Indeed, its closest competitor.

Interestingly, ZDNet reports that data from SurveyMonkey Intelligence indicates that Indeed Job Search will overtake LinkedIn soon. This particular analysis is focused on mobile apps rather than multi-platform, and although in the first quarter, LinkedIn’s app was downloaded the most often of apps of its kind, Indeed Job Search is catching up rapidly in monthly active users. SurveyMonkey Intelligence predicts that Indeed’s mobile app will overtake LinkedIn’s by the end of the second quarter. Further, the data indicated that Indeed Job Search is used more days per week than LinkedIn’s mobile app.

Not all analysts convinced about LinkedIn

MKM Partners analyst Rob Sanderson also put out a report about the social network this week. He has a Neutral rating, and his recent survey suggests that job postings on LinkedIn could be the worst since 2009. In fact, he believes online jobs data is getting worse and worse. According to Sanderson, online jobs postings from the Conference Board have been declining since February following 73 straight months of growth on a year over year basis. Further, he said ay was the worst month since January 2009. Although he notes that jobs postings are not a direct revenue driver for the social network, he believes it reflects total hiring activity.

Another negative he sees for the company is the increasing preference for GAAP instead of non-GAAP metrics as he noted that it is one of the most aggressive within its sector in terms of stock-based compensation. Sanderson adds that he likes the company’s long-term prospects and believes sentiment is too negative, but he wants more clarity on how its hiring revenue is exposed to macro factors or a “break-out in either Learning or Sales” before he will become more constructive on it. He has a fair value price of $130 per share.

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