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What Lies Ahead for LinkedIn (LNKD) this Earnings Season?

Professional networking behemoth LinkedIn Corp. LNKD is set to report first quarter 2016 results on Apr 28. Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Factors to Consider

LinkedIn, a leader in the emerging online professional networking segment, enjoys increasing worldwide popularity and steady growth. The company concluded 2015 on a strong note with better-than-expected results for the fourth quarter. Moreover, it saw an impressive 19% increase in its cumulative members.

LinkedIn’s traction in the mobile segment is particularly impressive, primarily owing to the launch of its applications for Apple’s AAPL iPhones and Android-based smartphones. Synergies from acquisitions —, Newsle and Bizo — are also expected to contribute to earnings through targeted marketing strategies over the long term apart from enhancing user experience.

We believe that LinkedIn’s initiatives to increase advertising revenues through product launches and partnership programs are praiseworthy. Advertisers are also taking note of the company’s growing user base, in our view.

LinkedIn’s investments in strategic products are necessary, in our view, as other companies like Facebook and Twitter are also looking to expand in the professional networking space.

Nonetheless, continued investments to provide new and improved products and services might affect LinkedIn’s profitability in the short run.

Earnings Whispers?

Our proven model does not conclusively show that LinkedIn is likely to beat earnings estimates this quarter. This is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1, 2 or 3 for this to happen. This is not the case here, as you will see below.

Zacks ESP: Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate (loss of 24 cents per share) and the Zacks Consensus Estimate (loss of 28 cents per share), stands at +14.29%.

Zacks Rank: LinkedIn carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). We caution against stocks with Zacks Rank #4 and 5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

Stocks to Consider

Here are some companies you may want to consider as our model shows that they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Benefitfocus, Inc. BNFT, with an Earnings ESP of +4.00% and a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy)

Align Technology Inc. ALGN with an Earnings ESP of +12.82% and a Zacks Rank #2

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APPLE INC (AAPL): Free Stock Analysis Report
ALIGN TECH INC (ALGN): Free Stock Analysis Report
LINKEDIN CORP-A (LNKD): Free Stock Analysis Report
BENEFITFOCUS (BNFT): Free Stock Analysis Report
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