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Why LinkedIn Dropped 11% in August

By Evan Niu, CFA - Sep 8, 2015 at 10:00AM

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Is it meaningful? Or just another move?

What: Shares of professional networker LinkedIn (LNKD.DL) fell by 11% last month, according to S&P Capital IQ data. The weakness in early August can be primarily attributed to LinkedIn second quarter earnings release at the very end of July. As a high multiple stock, shares were also punished amid the broader market's sell-off at the end of the month.

So what: When LinkedIn reported earnings on July 30, investors were concerned that user growth was seemingly decelerating and that near-term revenue could be affected by the company's decision to shift away from traditional display ads.

Even as revenue jumped 33% to $712 million, some of that growth was acquired through Lynda.com, which LinkedIn purchased earlier this year. Specifically, Lynda.com contributed $17.6 million in revenue during the quarter. LinkedIn also warned that premium subscription revenue should continue shrinking as a percentage of total revenue over time.

Now what: The broader market pullback only made things worse, as LinkedIn's valuation is pricing considerable growth in the years ahead. Any doubts surrounding that growth will punish the stock, particularly during times of extreme market volatility; shares hit fresh 52-week lows in August.

But some analysts think the concerns are overblown. More recently, MKM Partners reiterated its "buy" rating and $285 price target on LinkedIn, saying the current weakness represents a buying opportunity. The long-term thesis for LinkedIn's core business remains intact, and the perceived weaknesses are in legacy businesses like display advertising. LinkedIn is still poised to be a long-term winner.

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