July 15, 2024

DealBook: Bank Analysts Shower Praise On LinkedIn

7:36 p.m. | Updated

LinkedIn’s stock is a long way from its first-day pop, when it traded above $100 a share. But its underwriters are feeling pretty optimistic about the Internet company.

On Tuesday, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch all initiated coverage with bullish ratings on the social networking site. The price targets ranged from $85 to $92.

Amid the vote of confidence, shares of LinkedIn jumped more than 12 percent, to close at $85.56.

The banks — which had to wait several weeks from the initial public offering in May before publishing research — all offered rosy outlooks.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch weighed in with the most optimistic price target of $92, calling LinkedIn a “$10 billion long-term revenue opportunity.” Last year, the Internet company notched sales of $243 million.

Such strong expectations rest on their assessments of LinkedIn’s business model. UBS, which set a price target of $90, called LinkedIn “disruptive,” saying it would most likely record “better-than-expected growth in the user base, with corresponding revenue outperformance.” The social network’s lead underwriter, Morgan Stanley, which placed an overweight rating on stock, said LinkedIn could become a “standard utility” for recruiters.

“Every once in a while, a company comes around that transforms an industry in such a way that investors have difficulty grasping just how big it may one day become,” the Morgan Stanley note said. “We believe LinkedIn can be one of these companies.”

Douglas Anmuth of JPMorgan had similar praise. The analyst, who has an overweight rating on the stock and an $85 price target, said the Internet company was “disrupting both the online and offline job recruitment markets.” Given its leading position as a social network for professionals, he said, LinkedIn should also be able to capture a greater share of the $27 billion global market for staffing.

But Mr. Anmuth did temper his predictions. He cautioned that LinkedIn could be worth $60 a share if economic conditions deteriorated and the job market slowed.

Banks that did not participate in the I.P.O. offered the most subdued take on LinkedIn. Evercore Partners, which published a note earlier this month, initiated coverage with an equal-weight rating and a price target of $70. That’s roughly 18 percent below where the shares are trading now.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=c0048b7a27f0ad6e04e50fdbb3afa6b1

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