LinkedIn earnings climb as growth accelerates

LinkedIn Corp.’s first quarterly update since its ballyhooed IPO reassured investors who believe it’s smart to buy into the hype surrounding a promising crop of Internet companies.

The second-quarter results announced Thursday not only included the rapid revenue and membership growth that LinkedIn’s professional networking website needed to show to justify its lofty stock price, but also delivered an impressive increase in earnings when analysts were bracing for a loss.

It marked the first update since LinkedIn’s initial public offering of stock in May. The company’s shares immediately doubled from their IPO price of $45 and have remained in that range since then. LinkedIn’s performance is being closely watched amid a stirring debate about whether investors are overvaluing Internet companies and setting the stage for a devastating collapse like the one that occurred in the sector a decade ago.

Fewer people sign up for jobless benefits

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits dipped last week, a sign the job market may be improving slowly.

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits edged down 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 400,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the lowest level in four months. The previous week’s figure was revised upward from 398,000 to 401,000.

The four-week average, a less volatile figure, dropped for the fifth straight week to 407,750. That suggests there is a downward trend in layoffs.

AIG reports quarterly income of $1.8 billion

AIG, one of the largest global insurance companies, reported earnings of $1.8 billion in the second quarter, reversing a loss of $2.7 billion a year ago.

American International Group Inc.’s income from both its property casualty and life insurance businesses were slightly lower than last year. The company’s holdings in insurance company AIA, which went public in Hong Kong last year, produced income of $1.5 billion.

AIG’s earnings were wiped out in the second quarter last year by a $3.3 billion goodwill impairment charge for discontinued operations.

AIG’s reported earnings per share of $1, higher than the 90 cents that analysts were expecting. In January, the insurance firm laid the groundwork to start repaying the American taxpayer the $182 billion in bailout money received during the financial crisis.

Mattel to pay $309 million in dispute over Bratz dolls

A federal judge ordered toy giant Mattel Inc. to pay rival MGA Entertainment more than $309 million on Thursday, marking another tumultuous chapter in the years-long legal fight between the two companies over ownership of the lucrative Bratz fashion doll line.

The judge’s order marks the latest stunning reversal of fortune for the upstart MGA, which has been involved in a legal battle with Mattel since 2004 over who owns the Bratz doll. The dolls with pouty lips, hip hop-style clothing and oversized feet were aimed at “tweens,” or girls ages 9 to 11, and flew off the shelves when they debuted in 2001.

U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter reduced a previous jury award from more than $88 million to $85 million but then awarded Los Angeles-based MGA an additional $85 million in punitive damages for trade secrets misappropriation. He also awarded MGA and its Chief Executive Officer Isaac Larian $137 million in legal fees related to copyright and trade secrets issues and more than $2 million in legal fees and related costs on the trade secrets claims.

The total was more than $309.8 million, according to court papers and MGA lead counsel Jennifer Keller.

— From news service reports