Stifel's LinkedIn (LNKD +4.6%) PT represents a 29% premium to where shares currently trade, and a 161% premium to where they traded to start the year. It also equals a valuation of $33.6B, or 135x consensus 2014 EPS.
Analyst Michael Purcell gushes with praise for the professional social network, declaring it's "evolving into a critical daily or weekly platform for professional workers of all types," and will "remain pivotal in the increasingly complex forces of global business expansion and labor."
Sell-side commentary on LinkedIn has been quite bullish lately. ITG Research recently reported LinkedIn's Q4 was tracking above consensus, and Needham has reiterated a Buy and $280 PT following an upbeat investor meeting with CFO Steve Sordello.
Among other things, Needham is upbeat about LinkedIn's Sales Navigator social selling tool (just beginning to ramp), and notes management sees many HR opportunities, including training and performance management.
Needham: "The holy grail is to recruit, train and measure the effectiveness of employees all through one platform." Such an offering could put LinkedIn into competition with a variety of cloud HR software firms, such as Workday, Ultimate Software, and Cornerstone OnDemand.