After reading this article, you won't be able to say you didn't see it coming. After the over 50% decline in its stock across the February-March period, online professional networking giant LinkedIn (LNKD) is poised for a dramatic revival. This social media stalwart is positioned to be a growth stock winner for 2016 and beyond.
The first quarter earnings beat that arrived in tandem with a sharp second quarter profit guidance has improved the company's visibility and future growth potential. Additionally, the company's refurbished strategy for a steadier rise in revenues, devoid of big surges, is now finding acclaim on Wall Street.
What's more, the stock should deliver 20% sales and earnings-per-share (EPS) growth for the next two years. Analysts have also penciled in the $160 mark for the stock, for a price target by May 2017. This stock belongs to a group of turbo-charged opportunities right now.
As the world's largest professional network on the Internet, the 9,700-employee strong LinkedIn has currently over 425 million members in over 200 countries and territories. Members use its platform to remain connected and informed and progress their careers, while customers are able to work smarter through LinkedIn's different product lines: Talent Solutions, Marketing Solutions, and Premium Subscriptions.
The company's investments in 2016 will continue to focus on the following themes: driving growth in core products, creating reciprocal value for members and customers, and increasing return on investment.
Microsoftis rumored to be looking at taking over LinkedIn. While that may or may not be the case, the space for online professional networks is rapidly evolving. Other companies such as Facebook, Google owner Alphabet and Twitter are developing or could develop solutions that can compete with LinkedIn.
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However, for now LinkedIn remains unchallenged in its core territory, with a brand value and recognition that's truly phenomenal. By launching new initiatives, LinkedIn is moving ahead. It unveiled a new application designed to help future graduates in their job searches (you could call it a "catch-them-and-watch-them-grow" strategy). It has also bought Connectifier, a company specializing in artificial intelligence.
LinkedIn sees investment as crucial to its future success. It's important that LinkedIn diversifies its revenue mix geographically since the U.S. now accounts for a quarter of LinkedIn's members and over 60% of its total group sales.
Mobile is its fastest growing channel for member engagement, growing at twice the rate of overall site traffic, with mobile unique visiting members representing 58% of unique visiting members in the first quarter of 2016. One of the best ways to make money is to invest in a company that's tapped into an unstoppable trend, and LinkedIn is linked to the inexorable rise of mobile.
The company is benefitting from increased sales of core products, specifically Recruiter, Jobs, Sponsored Content, and Sales Solutions as well as revenue from its recent $1.5 billion acquisition of Lynda.com.
The stock, which is still down 42.30% year-to-date, is recovering. Investors are now happy with the company guiding for second quarter revenues of $885-to-$890 million and EPS of $0.74-to-$0.77 vs. a consensus of $886.1 million and $0.71.
In fact, the 2016 revenue guidance of $3.65-to-$3.7 billion is slightly ahead of consensus expectations pegged at $3.67 billion. Expectations were low after LinkedIn was clobbered in February due to the guidance accompanying its fourth quarter report. But that's a thing of the past. For 2017, Wall Street expects LinkedIn to deliver a modest 20% revenue uptick at $4.46 billion and an EPS rise of 22.8%.
At a five-year expected PEG ratio (price-to-earnings-to-growth ratio) of 1.36, LinkedIn is a great stock to buy. The 41 analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for LinkedIn have a median target of $160.00, a 23+% moneymaking proposition.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.