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Baidu Q4 Profit Rises, But Shares Fall As Growth Slows


China's most-popular search engine Baidu Inc. (BIDU), Monday reported an increase in profit for the fourth quarter, as online marketing revenues surged 41 percent and customer base continued to grow.

However, Baidu's shares slipped over five percent in after hours, as its revenue growth has slowed compared to prior periods due to competition.

Baidu generates majority of its revenues from search-engine advertising. Its online marketing revenues for the fourth quarter surged 40.8 percent, however, was down compared to 49.6 percent in third quarter, 59.7 percent in second quarter, 75 percent in first quarter and 82.3 percent in the fourth quarter last year. Competition from other sites and mobile search being more popular has impacted the Baidu ad revenues.

Baidu, China's biggest internet company, increased its online marketing customers to 406,000, a 4.1 improvement over last quarter. Revenue per online marketing customer declined 3.1 percent from last quarter.

Baidu's revenues for the quarter grew to 6.34 billion renminbi or $1.02 billion, up 41.6 percent from 4.47 billion renminbi last year. Seventeen analysts had consensus revenue estimate of $1.01 billion for the quarter.

Baidu's attributable profit for the fourth quarter was 2.80 billion renminbi or $448.7 million, up 36.1 percent from 2.053 billion renminbi last year.

Earnings per ADS for the fourth quarter were 7.99 renminbi or $1.28, up from 5.87 renminbi last year.

Earnings per ADS, excluding share-based compensation expenses, were 8.18 renminbi or $1.31 for the quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $1.29 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Looking forward to the first quarter, Baidu expects to generate total revenues of $945.4 million to $975.9 million. Fifteen analysts currently have a consensus revenue estimate of $967.09 million for the quarter.

BIDU closed Monday's trading at $107.20, down 1.30% on the Nasdaq. In after hours, the stock further slipped $5.65 or 5.27%.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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