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BMO analysts say LinkedIn move to China is likely

LinkedIn Corp. shares jumped Friday on anticipation that the career-based social networking business could be headed to China.

BMO Capital Markets analysts Daniel Salmon and Jeffrey Silber upgraded their rating on LinkedIn to "Outperform" from "Market Perform" and bumped up their price target on the stock to $270 from $235.

Salmon and Silber said in a research note that they believe the company is preparing to formally launch in China in 2014. The analysts said that management has discussed this idea and that the company has hired a public relations firm to help with the effort. The analysts said there are already 4 million users in China using the English version of the site and the market represents huge growth potential.

LinkedIn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The analysts said China is one of several catalysts to aid in the company's long-term growth. Among the others are the recent hiring of a former Google executive to lead advertising sales and efforts to add more students to its platform.

LinkedIn's stock jumped $7.46, or 3.5 percent, to $233.90 in afternoon trading, outpacing broader market gains. Its stock value has more than doubled in 2013.

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