LinkedIn Corp (LNKD) Announces Third Quarter 2015 Results

LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD), the world’s largest professional network on the Internet reported its results for the third quarter of 2015. The transcript with prepared remarks is contained within this release. In addition, a supplemental presentation will be made available on the investor relations section of the LinkedIn website at

“LinkedIn delivered strong results in the third quarter, and recently announced several products focused on delivering increased member and customer value,” said Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn. “Our commitment to investing in our long-term roadmap continues to lay the foundation for future growth of the company.”

LinkedIn added a number of enhancements across our member value propositions during the quarter, including replacing the email inbox with a new messaging experience, expanding the publishing platform to include German, French, and Portuguese languages and developing the next generation of LinkedIn’s mobile flagship experience.

Total revenue increased 37% year-over-year to $780 million, which includes $41 million in revenue from

Talent Solutions revenue increased 46% year-over-year to $502 million.

  • Hiring contributed $461 million in revenue, up 34% year-over-year, driven by continued operational improvement from our field sales organization and strong online growth.
  • Learning & Development contributed $41 million in revenue, in its first full quarter of contribution post acquisition.

Marketing Solutions revenue grew 28% year-over-year to $140 million.

  • Sponsored Updates performance once again exceeded 100% year-over-year growth, partially offset by expected premium display headwinds.

Premium Subscriptions revenue improved 21% year-over-year to $138 million.

  • Sales Navigator continued to gain traction with large enterprises and saw improvements in customers’ satisfaction.

Adjusted EBITDA was $208 million, or 27% of revenue which is consistent with last year. GAAP net loss attributable to common stockholders was $41 million and non-GAAP net income was $103 million.

GAAP diluted EPS was $(0.31), below last year’s performance of $(0.03). Non-GAAP diluted EPS improved to $0.78 compared to $0.52 last year.

“LinkedIn achieved strong performance across all three product lines during the quarter,” said Steve Sordello, CFO of LinkedIn. “We remain focused on pursuing long-term investments to achieve future growth and increased profitability.”

Business Outlook

LinkedIn is providing guidance for the fourth quarter and full year 2015. Further details can be found in the transcript below and the supplemental presentation, which will be made available on the investor relations section of the LinkedIn website at

  • Q4 2015 Guidance: Revenue is expected to range between $845 million and $850 million. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be approximately $210 million. Non-GAAP EPS is expected to be approximately $0.74. The company expects depreciation of approximately $78 million, amortization of approximately $47 million, and stock-based compensation of approximately $135 million. The company also expects approximately 132 million GAAP fully-diluted weighted shares and 134 million non-GAAP fully-diluted weighted shares.
  • Full Year 2015 Guidance: Revenue is expected to range between $2.975 billion and $2.980 billion. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be approximately $740 million. Non-GAAP EPS is expected to be approximately $2.63. The company expects depreciation of approximately $281 million, amortization of approximately $135 million, and stock-based compensation of approximately $510 million. The company also expects approximately 129 million GAAP fully-diluted weighted shares and 131 million non-GAAP fully-diluted weighted shares.

Prepared Remarks — Jeff Weiner, CEO LinkedIn Corporation

Q3 was a strong quarter for LinkedIn. Our member-facing product pipeline has never been stronger, and recent roll-outs are driving continued positive engagement trends. In terms of our business lines, Talent Solutions performed well, while Marketing Solutions remained stable. We also made good progress in Sales Solutions and, our more nascent opportunities, which are future growth drivers for the company.

For Q3, overall revenues grew 37% to $780 million. We delivered adjusted EBITDA of $208 million, and non-GAAP EPS of $0.78 cents.

Q3 cumulative members grew 20% to 396 million, and last week reached the 400 million member milestone. Unique visiting members grew 11% to an average of 100 million per month, and member page views grew 33%. This has yielded 20% year over year growth in page views per unique visiting member, continuing a pattern of accelerated growth throughout 2015. This is in part a result of placing more emphasis on quality engagement for our members and less on transactional engagement generated by emails. Mobile continues to grow at double the rate of overall member activity, and now represents 55% of all traffic to LinkedIn.

LinkedIn’s value proposition is simple – connect to opportunity. For our members, this means three things: connect to your professional world, stay informed through professional news and knowledge, and get hired and build your career. In 2015, we made substantial progress on delivering these value propositions. Here are a few highlights of the progress we’ve made since our last earnings call.

We continued to expand the LinkedIn network globally. Since our last call, China has continued to accelerate the absolute number of signups, and now has more than 13 million members, up more than 3x since early 2014 when we launched our local language version. Though still early, we are also seeing strong sign-ups and engagement for Chitu, our first professional networking app designed specifically for the Chinese market.

In Q3, we replaced the traditional Inbox with Messaging, a more lightweight and casual communications interface. While still early, but we have already seen a double digit percentage increase in the number of messages sent between members, and a significant lift in one day reply rates. Messaging is already available for our English-language members, and we are in the process of completing the roll out globally.

Finally, a few weeks ago, we previewed the next generation of LinkedIn’s mobile flagship experience. This new app was developed mobile first; does fewer things better; and is faster, simpler, and more personalized. It’s structured around five key pillars – the Feed, Profile, My Network, Messaging, and Search – and will launch next month. In 2016, these pillars will also serve as the foundation for the ongoing evolution of our desktop site.

Connecting our members to relevant news, knowledge, and skills is another strategic priority integral to creating member value.  Our publishing platform is central to this effort. In Q3, the number of long-form posts published per week reached more than 150,000. We also recently added the ability to post long-form content in more languages, including Portuguese, French, and German. And last week, we welcomed Oprah Winfrey to the Influencer platform.

Lastly, helping members get hired is one of the fastest growing areas of engagement on LinkedIn. We continue to increase the scale of jobs on the platform, with more than 4 million active job listings today, compared to roughly 1 million a year ago. Monthly job page views were up over 90% year over year in September, and we have seen a 75% year over year increase in applications to those jobs.

Creating value for our members enables us to transform the way our customers Hire, Market, and Sell on a global basis through our three diverse product lines. In Q3, Talent Solutions grew 46% to $502 million, inclusive of Learning & Development revenue from; Marketing Solutions was up 28% to $140 million; and Premium Subscriptions, which includes Sales Solutions, increased 21% to $138 million.

For Talent Solutions, Q3 saw continued strength stemming from the sales force realignment done at the start of the year. We have been investing in Talent Solutions R&D throughout 2015, and we now have the most powerful pipeline of new products for recruiters in our history. At Talent Connect, we announced two of our biggest – LinkedIn Referrals, and a completely revamped Recruiter platform. Both products enable employers to more easily leverage better data and employee relationships to hire the right talent faster. Referrals is expected to launch in November, and the new Recruiter early next year.

The ongoing integration of progressed in Q3 with the launch of new LinkedIn Influencer courses and new features for our members. And the enterprise business remains strong; last quarter, lynda signed an existing customer to multi-year renewal for more than four million dollars, the largest deal in its history.

For Marketing Solutions, we continue to create a more scalable business and become the most effective platform for marketers to engage professionals. In Q3, Sponsored Updates accounted for approximately half of all Marketing Solutions revenue, and continues to grow in excess of 100% year over year.

In Sales Solutions, we launched a new Sales Navigator homepage with integrated Social Selling Index data. Sales Navigator customer satisfaction continued to increase during Q3. In addition, the field sales team is seeing early success with a “land and expand” go to market strategy.

Additionally, just this week, LinkedIn and EY agreed on the largest single deal in our history, leveraging Sales Navigator as a platform, as well as a go-to-market alliance to help accelerate our respective growth in the business-to-business enterprise market. Our collaboration with EY will enable us to leverage EY’s extensive capabilities, footprint and global reach. Together, we’ll help companies develop deeper and more trusted customer relationships through social and data analytics. We believe this strategic relationship will lead to collaboration and co-creation of solutions, generating opportunities for both of our organizations.

Lastly, LinkedIn @ Work, our newest value proposition for our customers, continues to gain momentum. In August, we launched LinkedIn LookUp, a standalone app that allows members to find and contact co-workers. And in September, we announced the general availability of LinkedIn Elevate to all large enterprises. Nearly all of the pilot partners up for renewal have purchased the product.

As we think about 2016, we expect to accelerate our focus on how we integrate all of these assets to help enterprises hire, market, and sell by using LinkedIn to connect to opportunity.

Finally, a word about our Talent, our most important operating priority. In Q3, we made strong progress on hiring senior level engineering talent, as well as hiring a record number of engineering managers, both of which are key objectives for us in 2015. This traction enables us to scale faster and deliver our product roadmap more effectively.

And now, I’ll turn it over to Steve for a deeper dive into our operating metrics and financials.

Prepared Remarks — Steve Sordello, CFO LinkedIn Corporation

Today I will discuss growth rates on a year-over-year basis unless indicated otherwise, and non-GAAP financial measures exclude items such as stock-based compensation expenses, amortization of intangibles, and the tax impacts of these adjustments.

During the third quarter, we demonstrated strong financial performance, and made significant progress on our long-term product roadmap for both members and customers.

With respect to revenue, in Q3 we generated $780 million in total sales, an increase of 37% year-over-year, or 43% on a constant currency basis. While lynda contributed approximately $41 million to revenue in its first full quarter post acquisition, the vast majority of our out performance relative to guidance was driven by the core business.

Talent Solutions, showed strong performance, with revenue of $502 million growing 46% year-over-year, and represented 64% of sales versus 61% last year.

Within our Hiring business, revenue grew 34% year-over-year, or 39% on a constant currency basis.

In our field sales channel, we saw nice year-over-year improvement in both churn and the net ratio. We also saw steady growth in new customers as we approach nearly 40,000 enterprise accounts under contract.

Our online channel is where small companies turn to LinkedIn on a self-serve basis, and in Q3 showed solid growth. All three online products – Recruiter Lite, Job Seeker, and online jobs – exhibited strength, the result of an upgraded customer experience.

Learning & Development contributed $41 million in the first full quarter following the lynda acquisition. Our product and go-to-market teams have focused on growing lynda’s existing business, and we plan to begin launching more integrated consumer and enterprise products in 2016.

Marketing Solutions grew 28% to $140 million, or 34% on a constant currency basis, and represented 18% of revenue versus 19% last year.

Sponsored Updates maintained strong momentum, and continues to be the driver of our advertising business. Sponsored Updates represented nearly 50% of marketing revenue, and once again grew in excess of 100% year-over-year. Recent growth has been driven by increased customer demand, aided by the launch of our new online campaign manager.

As expected, CPM-based premium display continued to face secular-driven headwinds. We experienced similar trends as compared with last quarter with revenue decreasing in the mid 30% range year-over-year. Premium display now represents approximately 15% of the Marketing Solutions mix compared with approximately 30% last year. As Sponsored Updates continues to grow, we expect premium display to contribute a smaller portion of our long-term mix.

We also remained focused on the B2B opportunity and continue to evolve our recently launched LinkedIn Lead Accelerator product. During the quarter, we saw churn decrease due to the emphasis on annual vs. quarterly campaigns.

Premium Subscriptions grew to $138 million up 21% year-over-year, or 26% growth on a constant currency basis, and contributed 18% of revenue versus 20% last year.

Sales Solutions remained the faster growing component of Premium, now representing over one-third of this revenue line. We continue to make both product and go-to-market gains as this new business enters its second year.

In addition to introducing Sales Navigator to new enterprise customers like EY, we continue to gain traction with our land and expand play book. Microsoft provides a terrific example, having grown their social selling practice from 15 Sales Navigator seats to more than 3,000 in less than two years. In the process, their social selling reps have seen a nearly 40% increase in productivity when compared to traditional sales reps.

General subscriptions still represents the majority of premium revenue, though since launching the new on-boarding experience late last year, we continue to see the individual subscriber mix shift towards Job Seeker and Recruiter Lite which are both reported within Talent Solutions.

In terms of geography, revenue generated outside the US represented 38% of overall revenue versus 40% last year, or 40% this quarter on a constant currency basis. EMEA performed well showing acceleration during the quarter, and APAC showed nice improvement as well.

By channel, field sales contributed 62% of revenue versus 60% last year. While a smaller portion of our revenue, higher margin online products performed well during the quarter, especially within Talent Solutions.

Moving to the non-GAAP financials, Adjusted EBITDA was $208 million, a 27% margin. This exceeded our expectations with revenue driving over half of our out performance, the vast majority coming from the core business, with especially strong performance from high-margin online products. The remainder of over performance was tied to lower expenses oriented across several areas including lynda and facilities.

Depreciation and Amortization totaled $118 million while stock compensation was $127 million.

GAAP net loss was $41 million, resulting in a $0.31 loss per share, compared to a loss of $4 million and $0.03 last year.

Non-GAAP net income was $103 million, resulting in earnings of $0.78 per share, compared with $66 million and $0.52 last year.

The balance sheet remains well positioned with $3.1 billion of cash and marketable securities. Operating cash flow was $240 million versus $181 million a year ago, and free cash flow was $73 million, up from $61 million last year. Note, capex increased meaningfully quarter over quarter as we began the buildout of our third self-managed data center.

I will end the call with guidance for the fourth quarter and an updated outlook for 2015.

For the fourth quarter:

  • We expect revenue between $845 and $850 million, 32% growth at the midpoint.
  • We expect Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $210 million, a 25% margin.
  • For non-GAAP EPS, we expect approximately $0.74 per share.

For the full year:

  • We expect revenue between approximately $2.975 and $2.980 billion, representing growth of 34% year-over-year.
  • This represents an increase of $35 – $40 million compared to prior guidance. The majority of the out performance was driven by Q3 results, with the remaining increase from a slight up-tick in our Q4 outlook for both our core business and lynda.
  • We expect Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $740 million, a 25% margin.
  • This represents an increase of approximately $75 million compared to prior guidance, with Q3 out performance of about $60 million.
  • For non-GAAP EPS, we expect approximately $2.63 per share.

I will now provide some additional context on guidance.

With respect to revenue in the fourth quarter:

  • Within Hiring, Learning & Development, and Sales Solutions, we expect healthy underlying trends to continue, albeit compared against a particularly strong Q4 in 2014.
  • For Marketing Solutions specifically, we expect Sponsored Updates to continue to drive our growth, offsetting consistent secular display headwinds and our first full quarter with a year-over-year comparison post the Bizo acquisition last year.
  • We also expect an approximately 5% growth headwind relative to F/X, unchanged from our previous Q4 outlook.

With respect to Adjusted EBITDA guidance:

  • We expect greater expense impact from a heavier quarter of sales rep hiring, greater field sales seasonality after a particularly strong online quarter in Q3, and ongoing investments in key areas including China and our member platform as we launch the new flagship app.

Lastly, I want to touch on how improvements to member-facing products will impact engagement metrics in the short-term:

  1. First, we are streamlining our new mobile app thereby decreasing the number of page views necessary to deliver a high quality experience. Specifically, more intuitive tabbed browsing replaces a dedicated navigation page, creating more seamless interaction.
  2. Second, we continue to remove emails and other transactional pages that generate lower value engagement to the site. This creates a better experience and long-term value for members, but will have a short-term impact on page view growth, especially when compared against a heavy transactional period like Q4’2014.

Both initiatives reflect our commitment and investment in the member platform. Throughout 2015, we have increasingly seen deeper member interaction across our core value propositions, including greater than 90% growth in traffic to jobs, and publishing content growing two times faster than the overall site. We look forward to sharing continued progress as we further innovate on our member platform.

Additional guidance incorporates:

  • Depreciation of approximately $78 million for Q4 and $281 million for the full year, with fourth quarter amortization of approximately $47 million and $135 million for the full year.
  • Stock based compensation of approximately $135 million for Q4 and approximately $510 million for the full year.
  • Other expense of approximately $16 million for Q4 and $57 million for the full year, including GAAP-only convertible accretion of $12 million in Q4 and $46 million for the full year.
  • In addition in Q4 we are evaluating and may adopt new accounting guidance with regard to our China JV, which increases the volatility of non-cash other expense.
  • A Non-GAAP tax rate of 23% for Q4 and the full year.
  • Capex of approximately 20% of revenue for the full year, reflecting the 2nd half data center build-out.
  • And for the share count:
  • On a GAAP basis, we expect 132 million fully diluted weighted shares in Q4, and an average of 129 million for the full year.
  • On a non-GAAP basis, we expect 134 million fully diluted weighted shares in Q4 and an average of 131 million for the full year.

In closing, LinkedIn delivered strong performance during the third quarter.  As we end the year, our focus remains on the long-term realization of our mission and vision. This is an exciting period for LinkedIn as our product innovation takes root with complete re-designs of both our flagship mobile app and recruiter platform. We will continue to focus on areas that drive the greatest long-term business impact, while scaling our platform to create the most value for our members and customers. (Original Source)

Shares of LinkedIn are up 9.88% to $238.50 in after-hours trading. LNKD has a 1-year high of $276.18 and a 1-year low of $165.57. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $196.59 and its 200-day moving average is $206.78.

On the ratings front, LinkedIn has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report released yesterday, BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis upgraded LNKD to Buy, with a price target of $250, which represents a potential upside of 17.4% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on the same day, Suntrust Robinson Humphrey’s Robert Peck maintained a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $275.

According to, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Colin Gillis and Robert Peck have a total average return of 8.9% and 10.3% respectively. Gillis has a success rate of 65.9% and is ranked #758 out of 3808 analysts, while Peck has a success rate of 58.6% and is ranked #252.

The street is mostly Bullish on LNKD stock. Out of 20 analysts who cover the stock, 15 suggest a Buy rating and 5 recommend to Hold the stock. The 12-month average price target assigned to the stock is $267.70, which represents a potential upside of 25.7% from where the stock is currently trading.

LinkedIn Corp operates a social networking website used for professional networking. The Company’s website allows members to post a profile of their professional expertise and accomplishments.

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