SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- LinkedIn Corp.'s shares climbed more than 6 percent Wednesday after an investment research report weighed in with a favorable opinion about the online professional network's growth prospects.
THE SPARK: A group of Internet analysts working for Jefferies highlighted their first research report on LinkedIn with a forecast that the company's stock price will rise to $142 within the next year. That's 16 percent above LinkedIn's peak price of $122.70 per share reached within the first few hours of trading during the company's stock market debut in May 2011.
The Jefferies' analysts based their forecast on the view that LinkedIn's earnings will steadily rise as more people post their resumes on a service that has become the equivalent of the world's biggest digital Rolodex. About 174 million members had listed their job histories on LinkedIn through June, up from 72 million profiles two years ago.
Those listings have turned LinkedIn into a valuable resource for employers looking to hire new talent. LinkedIn is profiting from the personal data by charging fees to gain better access to its database and uses a variety of tools to help identify the candidates best suited for specific job openings. The company, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., also sells advertising that accounts for about one-third of its revenue.
With LinkedIn adding roughly two new profiles every second, Jefferies expects the company's website to become an even more important career management and employee-recruitment service.
THE BIG PICTURE: Wall Street has become increasingly optimistic since LinkedIn priced its initial public offering at $45 last year. The shares haven't come close to sinking below the IPO price and have been trading above $100 since Aug 2, when LinkedIn reported second-quarter revenue that exceeded analyst estimates. The company's second-quarter earnings, after subtracting certain accounting items, mirrored analyst forecasts.
THE ANALYSIS: Jefferies' analysts envision LinkedIn's revenue more than tripling during the next years, rising from a projected $522 million this year to $1.8 billion in 2014.
LinkedIn has "an enormous ability to take market share as one of the most differentiated recruiting products out there," the Jefferies' analysts wrote in a report issued late Tuesday.
SHARE ACTION: The stock added $6.98 to $114.35 in Wednesday's afternoon trading.