(Adds user growth hitting 300 million, details on global
SAN FRANCISCO May 1 LinkedIn Corp
forecast 2014 revenue below Wall Street's expectations on
Thursday, underscoring concerns about its ability to sustain its
rapid growth and helping to drag its shares more than 3 percent
The social networking company, which is geared toward
connecting professionals with prospective employers, foresees
revenue of $500 million to $505 million this quarter, compared
with an average Wall Street forecast of $505.1 million.
For all of 2014, it expects sales of $2.06 billion to $2.08
billion - up from a previous forecast, but still lagging
analysts' $2.11 billion target.
Its shares slid to $155.80 in after hours trading from a
close of $161.22 on the New York Stock Exchange.
LinkedIn's tepid outlook overshadowed a higher-than-expected
46 percent increase in first-quarter revenue to $473.2 million,
versus the $466.6 million expected by analysts on average,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
And it posted non-GAAP earnings of 38 cents a share, better
than the 34 cents expected.
LinkedIn has rapidly expanded from an online gathering place
for professionals to a provider of a plethora of employment
services, and it is now mining mobile advertising, marketing
solutions and original content for new revenue.
It is also trying to replicate its U.S. success
internationally. In February, it launched a Chinese language
"beta" version of its main website, in the hope of jump starting
an expansion into the world's largest Internet market by users.
However, the company acknowledged it will have to police what
some of its members say on the website.
Wall Street has high expectations for a company still
growing its top line at strong double-digit-percentages, while
attracting new members to its expanding network.
LinkedIn's membership rose 8.3 percent to 300 million
worldwide from 277 million at the end of the fourth quarter.
That pace accelerated slightly from 7 percent in the fourth
quarter a year ago.
LinkedIn's fourth-quarter revenue missed Wall Street's
target, the first time it has fallen short on a quarterly basis
since it went public in 2011.
(Reporting by San Francisco newsroom; Editing by Steve Orlofsky
and Andre Grenon)