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LinkedIn’s 4th quarter profit and revenue beat Street

LinkedIn Corp on Thursday reported quarterly profit that beat Wall Street expectations and offered a bullish forecast for the new year, boosting shares of the professional social network in after-hours trading.

Excluding certain items, net income was $40.2 million, or 35 cents a share, above the 19 cents expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares rose 10 percent to $137 in extended trading.

The company also posted better-than-expected quarterly revenue of $303.6 million, an 81 percent rise from a year ago, as millions of new job seekers and corporate recruiters from around the world signed up with LinkedIn to post resumes or poach competitors’ employees.

Sales from international markets more than doubled over the past year to $114.6 million, or 38 percent of total revenue in the quarter. The company said in December it had registered 200 million users.

A star in the mostly disappointing social media sector, LinkedIn has beaten expectations for seven consecutive quarters since going public in May 2011 at $45 a share.

The company offered bullish forecasts for the first quarter as well, projecting revenue between $305 million and $310 million, above analyst estimates of $301 million.

LinkedIn, founded by former PayPal employees in 2002, remains one of the most profitable companies in the Internet sector, with gross margins of roughly 90 percent.

But analysts have begun questioning in recent months whether the company can extend its remarkable hot streak as it becomes saturated in some job markets.

In response to an inevitable slowdown in user growth, the company has sought to introduce some social media features to encourage visitors to click more on its site, such as personal blogs by successful businesspeople like Sir Richard Branson, whom users can “follow.”

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