LinkedIn's popularity is nowhere near Facebook's, but the social networking site has revolutionized online job search.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) - LinkedIn(:LNKD) may not be as sexy as Facebook, but just as Facebook has proved a disruptive presence in advertising, the other social network has transformed the job seeking industry.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based firm reports its fourth-quarter results later this week, hot on the heels of daily deals site Groupon(:GRPN).
"We continue to believe LinkedIn is disrupting both the online and offline job recruitment markets, and deeper corporate penetration and increasing member engagement will drive strong results going forward," J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth wrote in a December research report. He has an overweight rating and a $84 price target.
Jefferies analyst Youssef H. Squali, who rates the shares overweight with a $92 price target, believes that recent professional services hiring data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics bodes well for LinkedIn.
In particular, the analyst points to recent better-than-expected jobs data. "Hiring Solutions segment results should benefit from market share gains from traditional offline players (executive search firms) and strength in the professional services segment," Squali wrote, in a recent research report.
LinkedIn has emerged as increasingly disruptive presence, particularly when compared to other job placement services, a trend which may point toward strong fourth-quarter results.
Evercore Partners analyst Ken Sena wrote, "Strong checks on the quarter, which include data by Wanted Technologies, indications of share gains from Monster, and recent Indications from both Dice and CareerBuilder of continued robust growth in most sectors give us reason to believe that our $160 million net revenue estimation (up 95% y/y) for LinkedIn is doable." Sena rates shares equal-weight with a $70 price target.
That does not mean, however, that LinkedIn will remain the dominant player in online job recruiting. Sena notes that, although Facebook and Google do not currently have offerings in the professional job recruiting space, they may make inroads, "undermining the attractiveness of LinkedIn's professional social graph to investors."
The social networking site, which went public back in May, is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter earnings after the close of trading on Thursday, Feb. 9.
Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the company to $159.7 million and earnings of 7 cents per share. For the full year, the company is expected to report $513.9 million in revenue and 31 cents per share.
LinkedIn shares have outperformed the broader market this year, up 23.16%, versus 6.97% for the S&P 500.
Shares of LinkedIn are off 0.24% to $77.58 in early Wednesday trading.
Interested in more on Linkedin? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.
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--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York
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