LinkedIn dims hopes on sustainability

LinkedIn Corp delivered revenue forecasts that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations, deflating hopes that the high-flying professional social network can sustain its growth streak and sending its stock 8 percent lower.

On Thursday, the social network geared towards connecting professionals with prospective employers also announced it would pay $120 million in cash and stock to buy online job search service Bright, which it said should help improve online matches while broadening its user base.

LinkedIn has beaten top-line targets every quarter since the company went public in 2011. Its priority is now finding ways to make money out of the company’s mobile applications through features such as “sponsored updates,” while expanding its user base internationally.

LinkedIn’s membership climbed 7 percent to 277 million worldwide, from 259 million at the end of the third quarter. But that pace slackened slightly from 9 percent in each of the two previous quarters.

Mobile users now account for 41 percent of its members, from 38 percent in the third quarter and a mere 8 percent in early 2011.

LinkedIn posted a 20 percent rise in non-GAAP net income to $48.2 million in 2013’s fourth quarter, on better-than-expected revenue of $447.2 million.

But its revenue outlook for the first quarter and for the full 2014 year both missed analysts’ expectations.

It forecast 2014 revenue of between $2.02 billion and $2.05 billion, compared to the average analyst expectation of $2.16 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

For the first quarter, the company’s sales outlook of $455 million to $460 million also came in below the $470 million expected by analysts.

Shares of LinkedIn were down 8 percent at $205.51.

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LinkedIn dims hopes on sustainability