2 Big Winners in Social Networking

The Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a decent employment report for the month of April: The economy added 165,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate dipped to 7.5%. Apparently, that hadn't been discounted in stocks' recent two-day run-up, as the markets are showing solid gains this morning, with the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) and the narrower, price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) up 1% and 0.95%, respectively, at 10:05 a.m. EDT.

The big winners
There are winners and losers among social-networking companies, and the gulf between them is vast -- in some cases, it can mean the difference between wild success and extinction. Today, I'm talking about the winners.

Professional networking website LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD  ) reported its first-quarter results yesterday afternoon, blowing past the consensus estimate with earnings per share of $0.45 versus a forecast of $0.30. However, Wall Street's voracious expectations machine wasn't satisfied: The shares are down 8.3%. The reason? Putatively, it's the fact that the company issued revenue guidance for the current quarter that fell below analysts' estimate, although the midpoint of LinkedIn's guidance range was just 4% below the consensus figure.

One headline I saw this morning at the top of Yahoo! Finance summed up the fast-money crowd's disappointment: "LinkedIn's Weak Link." That may be accurate from a trader's perspective, but on a fundamental basis, this company looks to me like it is firing on all cylinders; for example, LinkedIn raised revenue guidance for 2013 to between $1.43 billion and $1.46 billion. It's difficult to argue for the purchase of the shares based on any traditional valuation metric, but, whether or not the shares are a good buy at current prices, this is clearly a business that is creating tremendous long-term value.

Speaking of winners in social networking, Twitter is the biggest name that has yet to go public, but its days as a private company may be numbered. In hiring Morgan Stanley investment banker Cynthia Gaylor as head of corporate development, the microblogging platform is sending an unmistakable signal that it is gearing up to join the public markets. At Morgan Stanley, Gaylor has worked on transactions on behalf of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Zynga. Let's hope a Twitter IPO goes more smoothly than Facebook's, which ended up as a reputational black eye for its lead underwriter -- Morgan Stanley.

Finally, Twitter got a terrific plug when the Oracle of Omaha himself, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, jumped into the conversation with his own account. As he put it in his first tweet:

Warren is in the house.

-- Warren Buffett (@WarrenBuffett) May 2, 2013

Within less than 24 hours, Buffett had attracted more than a quarter-million followers. In an interview that aired on CNBC this morning, the billionaire businessman said: "It's a terrific distribution medium. So I was very happy to go on to Twitter."

Believe the hype!

After the world's most hyped IPO turned out to be a dud, many investors don't even want to consider shares of Facebook. But there are things every investor needs to know about this revolutionary company. The Motley Fool's newest premium research report shows that there's a lot more to Facebook than meets the eye. Read up on whether there is anything to "like" about it today to determine whether Facebook deserves a place in your portfolio. Access your report by clicking here.


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