Social Media Stock Tracker: LinkedIn Crushes Earnings Estimates

The social media sector was up 2% this week as LNKD’s Q4/12 results dominated with strong numbers across all of its business segments, driving the stock up 21% on the week. YELP also performed well after an initial lukewarm reaction to its Q4/12 numbers, but ZNGA led the sector in weekly performance with a gain of 28%, mainly on stronger-than-expected financial results and perhaps the speculation of potential online gambling opportunities in New Jersey (we remain cautious on ZNGA due to its disastrous previous two quarters).
For the calendar year of 2013, the social media sector is up 10%. FB stock had a down week with a loss of 5%, which is probably not due to any specific development, but rather the reality that previously bullish investors continue to search for 2013 growth drivers that will justify the company’s current valuation. Other notable news included Twitter’s acquisition of Bluefin Labs (social TV analytics), which will strengthen its already impressive competitive position in the convergence of social, mobile, and TV.
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Earnings Season – Yelp
  • YELP announced its Q4/12 financial results, beating revenue estimates ($41.2mn vs. $40.3mn), but missing EPS estimates (-$0.08 vs. -$0.04). In our view, the negative initial aftermarket reaction was overblown, as sales and marketing expenses grew more slowly than revenues, and adjusted EBITDA of $1.8mn was above consensus numbers. Importantly, YELP’s revenue guidance was also strong and ahead of analyst estimates for both Q1/13 ($44mn-$44.5mn vs. consensus of $43.8mn) and 2013 ($210mn-$212mn vs. consensus of $207mn).
  • While there are some valid concerns about the slowing growth of average monthly visitors and active local business accounts, we believe that there is a baseline floor for YELP’s valuation that helps protect investors based on its leading competitive position in local search and its unique value as a potential acquisition target at less than $1.4bn in market cap. To drive significant share appreciation in 2013, YELP will need to show tangible results from its nascent international business and significantly monetize its impressive mobile presence (mobile app searches are a very large part of YELP’s overall traffic and mobile apps were used on 9.2mn unique devices vs. 8mn in Q3).
Earnings Season – LinkedIn
  • LNKD performed extremely well with Q4/12 revenues of $303.6mn beating estimates of $280mn and EPS of $0.35 crushing the consensus forecast of $0.19. Guidance for Q1/13 was well above consensus ($305mn-$310mn vs. $301.2mn), though 2013 was in line with estimates ($1.41bn-$1.44bn vs. $1.44bn). The stock closed the week at an all-time high and as all three business segments exceeded analyst expectations and growth accelerated in the marketing and premium subscription divisions. The stock is clearly driven by revenue growth rather than valuation metrics (2013 P/E is >70x) and will likely continue to grow as long LNKD can keep top-line growth ahead of expectations (and its peer group).
FB is testing a version of its News Feed ads where advertisers are no longer able to show ads to non-fans without using a product called Suggested Page

Rumors continue to circulate that FB is working on developing a location-based app that would supplant Foursquare’s position in the space

Instagram improved web access for users in order to allow viewing entire photo feed history on the desktop

The company’s ad exchange (FBX) will now display an AdChoices icon from the Digital Advertising Alliance that, when clicked, will explain interest-based advertising and allow users to opt out

In a study from Pew Research, 61% of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more and 20% of the online adults who do not currently use Facebook say they once used the site but no longer do so

AMZN announced that it plans to launch a virtual currency in May, for app and in-app purchases in the Amazon Appstore on the Kindle Fire

AOL announced its Q4/12 earnings, beating consensus revenue and EPS estimates on the strength of accelerating ad sales, and also announced a $100mn stock buyback

The company announced its Q4/12 earnings, beating consensus numbers on revenue and EPS, but concerns lingered over guidance of Q1/13 (at the midpoint) that was lower than estimates and a lower revenue per user metric than Q3/12

BIDU launched a beta version of shopping search site which allows users to search merchandise from large Chinese ecommerce companies

The company plans to eliminate mobile-only ad campaigns on AdWords and mandate that ads be run across all devices which may be an effort to push some advertisers to its mobile platform and to potentially blur the state of mobile CPCs in the future

GOOG prevailed in a legal battle with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in a ruling that noted that GOOG had not engaged in misleading behavior with its sponsored links and that it was not responsible for messages conveyed by paid advertisers

The company acquired Channel Intelligence, a company focused on tracking ecommerce activity for online retailers, for $125mn in cash

LNKD reported excellent Q4/12 financial results, beating estimates on revenues and significantly beating EPS numbers. With strong Q1 guidance, and impressive performance across all divisions, the stock closed the week at an all-time high

The company agreed to a licensing deal with Flavor Unit Entertainment, in a first-look deal (the production company is noted for content such as “Bringing Down the House”, “Beauty Shop”, and “House of Bodies”)

OPEN announced its Q4/12 earnings, beating consensus revenue and EPS estimates, though investor optimism was somewhat muted on 2013 guidance that was in line with consensus numbers
SOHU beat analyst estimates on revenues and EPS in its Q4/12 results, but concerns lingered over declining margins and lower than expected EPS guidance in Q1/13

Spotify released its app for the Windows Phone 8 platform

Twitter acquired Bluefin Labs, a social analytics company focused on TV, to further strengthen its positing in TV analytics (in concert with its existing partnership with Nielsen) for an undisclosed purchase price ($75mn-$100mn)

The company updated its mobile apps to improve search results by combining accounts and tweets (instead of users designating what type of search they are undertaking

WEBM (the parent company of released new features for its Facebook Page analytics service, which highlighted a new Comparative Dashboard tool that allows customers to build a personalized list of Facebook Pages and compare performance and engagement


YHOO announced a non-exclusive display ad deal with GOOG that will allow GOOG’s AdSense Web ads and AdMob mobile ads to be shown on Yahoo properties

YELP announced positive Q4/12 financial results, beating revenue estimates, but missed EPS estimates. Overall, strong EBITDA performance and guidance above consensus made it a positive quarter on balance

ZNGA’s Q4/12 financial results surprised investors beating on revenue bookings and EPS, driving the stock, but we remain cautious due to conservative Q1 guidance and a disastrous previous two quarters

Optimism around ZNGA’s real-money prospects continues, slightly buoyed by discussions of potential legislation legalizing online gambling in New Jersey

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