Reality check: LinkedIn gets a downgrade from analyst

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An analyst with investment bank JP Morgan, which helped underwrite business social network LinkedIn’s initial public offering, downgraded the stock today and set a price target of $85.

Doug Anmuth of JP Morgan said the company’s fundamentals were sound, but it was a little worrisome that it already had a then-valuation of nearly $12 billion. That’s close to Netflix’s $15 billion valuation, a movie rental company that generates $2.4 billion in quarterly revenue — compared to nearly $300 million in revenue for LinkedIn — he said.

LinkedIn is profitable and reported that its first quarter revenue in 2011 was up 110 percent to $93.9 million over the same quarter a year earlier. Net income increased to $2.08 million in the first quarter of 2011, up from $1.81 million in the first quarter last year.

LinkedIn’s trading debut last month went extremely well, and the company now has a market cap of around $10 billion, well above the valuation of $4 billion it claimed when it priced the shares of its initial public offering between $42 and $45. The company’s shares are currently trading around $100 — more than double the IPO pricing.

Just about every Web 2.0 company that has filed to go public this year — like group buying site Groupon, social games maker Zynga and cloud music service Pandora —  is generating a massive amount of revenue. But it seems like investors have more of an appetite for companies that are generating a profit rather than a large amount of revenue. Only two companies thus far are generating a profit — business social network LinkedIn and Zynga.

But LinkedIn is the only Web 2.0 company that filed to go public that has since made a splash on the public trading scene, and it is the only company that is profitable. Among the other two companies, Pandora had a relatively lukewarm IPO — though it is still trading slightly above its IPO price — while Chinese social network Renren is trading well below its IPO pricing.

Next on deck are Zynga, which made $90 million last year in income, and Groupon, which lost $456.3 million last year despite generating a huge amount of revenue.

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