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Ahead of the Bell: Bar set high for LinkedIn's 4Q

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) - LinkedIn `s knack of surprising Wall Street, an unbroken streak that winds back through every quarter since May 2011 after the company first went public, will be on the line when it posts fourth-quarter results Thursday afternoon.

In every instance, key numbers from the online professional networking service have beaten expectations.

Investors appear confident that the company will keep its streak alive. The stock hit a new high of $127.45 in late January, and is still hovering near there. Shares closed Wednesday at $125.77, and rose in after-hours trading.

Those that bought in almost two years ago at the initial public offering price of $45 per share have nearly tripled their investment.

Analysts, average, are expecting LinkedIn to post adjusted earnings of 19 cents per share on revenue of $280 million.

LinkedIn's market value of about $13 billion has been propelled by rapid growth, as more people around the world share information about their careers and aspirations on its free service. The Mountain View, Calif., company makes most of its money by selling subscriptions to employers, headhunters and others broader access to LinkedIn's database. Online advertising also brings in revenue.

Shortly after the year began, LinkedIn disclosed that it had surpassed 200 million accountholders for the first time. That's more than double the total of less than two years ago.

The fourth-quarter earnings report will show how many accountholders the company had at the end of December. It could be slightly below 200 million. LinkedIn Corp. ended September with 187 million members.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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