Hotdog oder Bratwurst – Zweikampf zwischenLinkedIn und XING geht weiter

Im XING-Hauptquartier in Hamburg werden sie sich vermutlich in’s Fäustchen lachen. Nach Börsenschluss in den USA wurden die jüngsten Quartals-Ergebnisse des Buisiness-/Recruiting-Netzwerks LinkedIn veröffentlicht – die Reaktionen und Einschätzungen der Börsen-Analysten kamen zu einer einhelligen, eher negativen Einschätzung. Aber Hamburger Schadenfreude ist nicht angesagt.

  • Gewinn pro Aktie im 4. Quartal 2015 beträgt $ 0,94 und übertrifft die Erwartungen der Analysten um $ 0,16.
  • Der Umsatz wurde um 34,0 Prozent im Vergleich zum Vorjahr auf $ 861,9 Millionen verbessert, damit wurden die Erwartungen der Analysten um $ 4.31 Millionen übertroffen.
  • Für das 1. Quartal 2016 wird ein Umsatz von $ 820 Millionen geschätzt; der überwiegende Einschätzung der Analysten liegen bei $ 866,7 Millionen.
  • Die Umsätze für das Geschäftsjahr 2016 werden auf $ 3,6 – $ 3,65 Milliarden geschätzt, der Gewinn pro Aktie wird mit $ 3,05 bis $ 3,20 erwartet. Diese Zahlen unterschreiten die überwiegende Einschätzung der Analysten in Höhe von $ 3,91 Milliarden Umsatz bzw. $ 3,67 Gewinn pro Aktie.
  • Im nachbörslichen Handel verlor die LinkedIn-Aktie 19%. In der Folge sank der Kurs der LinkedIn-Aktie um 27.5%.

Die Einschätzung der Börsianer kann so auf den Punkt gebracht werden: Gute Ergebnisse, die über den Erwartungen liegen – schlechte Aussichten für die Zukunft.

Aktienkursverlauf der letzten 3 Jahre

Ein Blick auf den Aktienkursvergleich der letzten 3 Jahre zeigt die Dynamik des Wettbewerbs der beiden führenden Business-Netzwerke. „Führend“ muss man allerdings einschränken. XING ist in einer starken Position in den deutschsprachigen Märkten Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz, während LinkedIn natürlich im Heimatmarkt USA und vielen internationalen Märkten eine Spitzenposition einnimmt. So hat LinkedIn mehr als 20 Millionen registrierte Mitglieder in Großbritannien, das entspricht ungefähr 58 der Beschäftigten. Salopp umschrieben geht es um den kulinarischen Fastfood-Wettbewerb Hotdog gegen Bratwurst. Weltweit gesehen gibt es nur wenige Länder, in denen beide Produkte gleichermaßen angeboten werden.

Die relative Aktienkursentwicklung von LinkedIn und XING zeigt eine Entwicklung der besonderen Art. Am Freitag, den 6. Februar 2015 explodierte die Kursentwicklung bei XING, in der Folge entwickelten sich beide Börsenwerte nach eigenen Trends. Die LinkedIn-Aktie stieg im 3-Jahres-Vergleich um  etwa 100%, XING hingegen legte um beachtliche 350% zu.

chart_XING_LinkedIn_Aktienkursentwicklung_3Jahre_bis_2016
Relative Aktienkursentwicklung XING vs LinkedIn im 3-Jahres-Vergleich

 

Es ergibt sich jedoch die Frage, ob in Wirklichkeit ein solcher Vergleich Substanz hat. Denn die relative Marktposition auf den jeweiligen Heimatmärkten bzw. International ist eigentlich ziemlich entgegengesetzt – die Fans des Fußballbundesligisten Hamburger SV laben sich im Stadion mit Bier und Bratwurst. Im SuperBowl-Finale des American Footballs ist dann überwiegend der Hotdog angesagt.

Bratwurstverkäufer
Ehemaliger Investment-Banker als Fastfood-Verkäufer: Frankfurter Worscht Börse im Schatten der Bank-Skyline

 

picture_Bratwurststand_Deli_Duc_in_Saigon
Ehemaliger Airline-Manager macht die deutsche Bratwurst am Stand von Deli Duc in Saigon auch für Vietnamesen populär.

 

Jeffrey Weiner, LinkedIn CEO, war nur einen kleinen Buchstabendreher davon entfernt, einen „Windfall Profit“ bei den Werbeeinnahmen zu erzielen. Bei der SuperBowl 50, dem weltweit größten Sport-Event, wurde ein TV Spot ausgestrahlt, der Geschichte hätte machen können: Die Hot Dog Weiner – pardon – Wiener Stampede.

 

 

Lange kauen, lange verdauen. Earning Call: Eher aus der Kategorie „Slow Food“

Die Lektüre der „Earning Call Transcripts“ ist für den Leser eher kein Fastfood-Ereignis. Schon eher wie der Verzehr einer frischen Auster, deren Schale erst mit einem Messer handwerklich geschickt und hoffentlich verletzungsfrei geöffnet werden muss, bevor die Delikatesse dann geschlürft und mit einem trockenen Chablis nachgespült wird. So nutzen US-Investment-Analysten auch ihren eigenen, gewöhnungsbedürftigen Slang. Der Wunsch nach „more color“, wie er beispielsweise in der GOOGLE-Analysten-Konferenz vorgetragen wurde, bedeutet nichts anderes als die Bitte um mehr Details oder mehr Substanz.

Aus der Earning Call Conference von LinkedIn

LinkedIn -27.5% due to guidance; field sales growth expected to slow, acquisition announced

(Source: http://seekingalpha.com/news/3084866-linkedin-minus-27_5-percent-due-guidance-field-sales-growth-expected-slow-acquisition)

While discussing its 2016 guidance, LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) says it expects its field sales hiring solutions business to see mid-20% growth in 2016, after exiting 2015 at 30% growth. The outlook is said to reflect „continued pressure in EMEA and APAC given current global economic conditions,“ and single-digit growth for self-serve products. It also doesn’t assume „meaningful contribution“ from LinkedIn’s Referrals and new Recruiter products.

Also: For its Marketing Solutions (ad) business, LinkedIn is shuttering its Lead Accelerator product as a standalone offering, and incorporating its technology into the Sponsored Updates ad product. The move is expected to have a short-term revenue impact. Nonetheless, LinkedIn forecasts Marketing Solutions will „accelerate in 2016.“

Meanwhile, spending will stay aggressive: Capex will equal a high-teens % of 2016 revenue, and aggressive investments will be made for LinkedIn’s Sales Solutions and Learning & Development (formerly Lynda.com) platforms.

Q4 sales/traffic details: Talent Solutions revenue (62% of total) +45% Y/Y to $535M – hiring revenue +32% to $487M, Learning & Development revenue totaled $49M. Over 3K corporate solutions accounts were added, raising the total above 42K (+29% Y/Y); LinkedIn won’t disclose this metric going forward. The add-on/renewal rate „decreased moderately“ Y/Y.

Marketing Solutions +20% to $183M, with Sponsored Updates surpassing 50% of segment revenue and display ad sales dropping by a high-30s % amid ongoing „secular-driven headwinds.“ Premium Subscriptions +19% to $144M, with Sales Navigator providing a lift. LinkedIn notes general subscriptions are now growing only at a single-digit rate as subscribers migrate to products such as Job Seeker and Recruiter Lite.

Registered members rose by 18M Q/Q to 414M. Unique visiting members only rose 7% to 100M (57M mobile). Member page views +26% to 37B. The U.S. was 61% of revenue.

Financials: 2015 free cash flow was $300M, up from just $21M in 2014. GAAP costs/expenses rose 39% Y/Y in Q4 to $877.9M. On a non-GAAP basis, sales/marketing spend was 31% of revenue, R&D 18%, G&A 11%, and cost of revenue 12%. LinkedIn ended 2015 with $3.1B in cash and $1.1B in convertible debt.

In other news, LinkedIn has announced it’s buying Connectifier, a startup that has developed A.I.-based search technology for helping recruiters find job candidates. LinkedIn, which bough job search engine/listing platform Bright in 2014, says Connectifier will „further strengthen our core products and accelerate our product roadmap, leveraging powerful machine learning-based searching and matching technology to help recruiters and hiring managers find the perfect talent fit.“

LinkedIn has tumbled to $139.46 after hours.

Jeff Weiner, CEO LinkedIn
Jeff Weiner, CEO LinkedIn

Jeffrey Weiner – Chief Executive Officer & Director

(Source: http://seekingalpha.com/article/3867916-linkedin-lnkd-jeffrey-weiner-q4-2015-results-earnings-call-transcript)

Q4 was a strong quarter for LinkedIn, bringing to a close a successful year of growth and innovation against our long-term roadmap.

For Q4, overall revenues grew 34% to $862 million. We delivered adjusted EBITDA of $249 million, and non-GAAP EPS of $0.94. For the full year 2015, revenue was $2.99 billion, up 35%, and we delivered adjusted EBITDA of $780 million, and non-GAAP EPS of $2.84.

In the quarter, cumulative members grew 19% to 414 million, unique visiting members grew 7% to an average of 100 million per month, and member page views grew 26%. This yielded 17% year-over-year growth in page views per unique visiting member, continuing a pattern of strong engagement growth over the past several quarters. Mobile in particular grew three times faster than overall member activity, and now represents 57% of all traffic to LinkedIn.

In 2015, we organized our long-term product strategy around the principle of creating greater value for our members and our customers, connecting them to opportunity. Central to this strategy is to help members stay connected and informed, advance their careers, and work smarter. I want to take you through the progress we achieved exiting 2015.

In December, we launched our re-imagined flagship app, built with the goal to help members stay connected and informed through a simpler, faster, and more personalized experience. The new app is an entirely new member platform, on which our R&D teams can iterate faster and test new features continuously. It is at the core of our member value strategy.

The new flagship app includes all of our core functionality, with the Feed at the center. While still early, in January we are seeing meaningful acceleration across several key metrics including Feed engagement, searches, and messages sent. The result is the fastest year-over-year growth we’ve seen in five months.

We are also seeing members significantly increase the amount of content they interact with in the Feed, thanks to improved algorithms and easier tools to follow publishers. The year-over-year growth rate for members sharing content has nearly doubled since launching the new flagship app, accelerating to nearly 40% year-over-year. And some third-party publishers are seeing materially increased traffic coming from LinkedIn, in some cases greater than three times previous levels.

The early accelerated traffic trends are particularly noteworthy, given our 2015 emphasis on quality versus quantity of email sent by LinkedIn to members. We have reduced the number of emails sent on a per member basis by 40%, a worthwhile trade-off aligned with our long-term strategy to create the best possible member experience.

Another key member investment throughout 2015 has been to help members advance their careers. As of January, we’ve more than doubled the number of jobs on LinkedIn versus last year, to more than 6 million open listings.

Even more encouraging is the acceleration in members leveraging LinkedIn to find career opportunities. Through improved discovery in our flagship and Job Seeker apps, as well as better relevance, we’ve seen a material increase in jobs engagement on LinkedIn and approximately 30% year-over-year growth last January to over 80% growth today. In addition, our jobs app has seen traffic increase approximately six times from a year ago. And most importantly, we’re driving a greater volume of hiring by our customers.

Integral to finding a job is ensuring that our members have the right skills. Lynda gives us a strong learning content asset, with the highest NPS scores across our entire product portfolio. As we look towards 2016, you can expect to see Lynda content more deeply integrated into the core LinkedIn experience, as well as deeper integration across our premium products. We also see a great opportunity this year to leverage our go-to-market strategy to continue to deliver Lynda content into the enterprise.

Lynda Weinman: Von Queen of Content zu Queen of Cash
Von der Queen of Content zur Queen of Cash: Lynda Weinman hat gut lachen – der Verkauf ihrer Online-Weiterbildungsplattform an LinkedIn brachte ihr 1.5 Milliarden Dollar ein.

By providing greater member value, we can continue to focus on helping our customers work smarter when they Hire, Market, and Sell by leveraging our three diverse product lines – Talent Solutions, Marketing Solutions, and Premium Subs, which today includes Sales Solutions.

For Talent Solutions, in 2015 we unveiled our first complete revamp of our flagship Recruiter product in seven years. And, we introduced LinkedIn Referrals, our first new Talent Solutions SKU. Next-generation Recruiter is more intuitive and relevant, and along with Referrals, will increase a recruiter’s ability to find passive talent based on relationships within the LinkedIn network. We are now aggressively ramping our go-to-market efforts for both products.

In 2016, we have three priorities for our core hiring products. First, we’ll roll-out new Recruiter and Referrals across our existing customer base. Second, we will tie our existing products together into an easy to use suite, growing our potential to impact greater amounts of hiring with existing customers. And third, we’ll begin our journey towards addressing long-tail hiring by making Recruiter simpler to use, and introducing automated sourcing to help SMBs and hiring managers find and acquire talent. The acquisition of Connectifier, announced this afternoon, will further strengthen our core products and accelerate our product roadmap, leveraging powerful machine learning-based searching and matching technology to help recruiters and hiring managers find the perfect talent fit.

For Marketing Solutions, we remain focused on being the most effective platform for marketers to engage professionals. That goal is increasingly realized through Sponsored Updates, which saw revenue more than double in 2015 as our fastest growing monetized product at scale. Sponsored Updates represented 52% of Marketing Solutions revenue exiting the year. Looking forward to 2016, we will continue to invest aggressively in Sponsored Updates by introducing more functionality, such as conversion tracking and enhanced targeting. We will place a large emphasis on scalability as engagement grows with our Feed in the new flagship app.

Within our Premium Subscriptions line, our land and expand go-to-market strategy for Sales Solutions continues to pay off and Sales Navigator customer satisfaction continues to increase. In 2016, we will continue to focus on improving the core product to become both a must-have daily-use case, and the primary system of engagement for sales professionals.

In 2015, we also introduced Lookup and Elevate, our newest enterprise products designed to help companies and their employees work smarter. These products not only connect any enterprise’s employees, but also support and reinforce our existing Hire, Market, and Sell products. Already, we’ve seen strong early uptake with 29 of 30 pilot customers purchasing Elevate.

Our strategy in 2016 will increasingly focus on a narrower set of high value, high impact initiatives with the goal of strengthening and driving leverage across our entire portfolio of businesses. Our roadmap will be supported by greater emphasis on simplicity, prioritization, and ultimate ROI and investment impact.

LinkedIn has more than 20 million registered members in the U.K., which equals 58 percent of the workforce.

Weiterführende Links:

LinkedIn: Lynda, hast Du mal ’nen Groschen für mich?

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