Baidu Talking of Move into Hottest Investment Bubble – Social Networking

Baidu (BIDU) did it’s normal thing last night in earnings, and with Google (GOOG) effectively neutered in China has little to fear in the near to intermediate term in the Chinese search engine space.  However, with the global buzz about social networking now reaching the same fever pitch we heard in the late 90s during the original internet revolution, Baidu waved a green flag to investors saying “we’re gonna be a social networking company too!”  Of course investors are giddy. :)  [I too shall be starting a social networking site; the details don’t matter – I just want my own valuation to rise 20x overnight]

Technically the stock has not participated in this nearly half year rally led by The Bernank, which led many (me included) scratching our head.  But with a huge base to work off of, the stock has an excellent technical condition to break out from, as long as the greater market remains benign.

Via Reuters:

Baidu Inc beat fourth quarter estimates and painted a bright near-term outlook as it bets on large advertiser spending and new Chinese Internet trends, such as social networking, to spur growth.

“The key attractiveness of Baidu is that they are the one and only one in China, they rely on the China story, the high growth Internet market and in particular search, and there’s no other key competitor in the market,” said Benjamin Tam, a Hong Kong-based portfolio manager with Investors Group.

Baidu, which has increased its focus on e-commerce and online video, grabbed more market share last year after rival Google Inc curtailed its operations following a high-profile fallout with Beijing over censorship. Baidu is the No. 1 Internet search engine in China with a 70 percent market share.

The company breezed past Wall Street financial targets in the fourth quarter and reported a higher-than-expected first-quarter revenue outlook. Beijing-based Baidu’s fourth-quarter net income rose to $175.9 million, or 50 cents a share, from $62.7 million, or $1.80 a share, a year ago, before a 10-for-1 stock split. That beat analysts’ average forecast of EPS of 45 cents.

Total revenue in the fourth quarter totaled $371.3 million compared with $184.7 million a year ago. Analysts, on average, had expected revenue of $360.3 million.  Read more »

Acquisition costs dropped:

Baidu’s cost to acquire traffic during the quarter declined, perhaps reflecting less competition from Google. Traffic acquisition cost (TAC) was 8.1% of revenue in Q4, down from 8.9% in Q3, and well below 16% in the year-earlier Q4. TAC for the full year was 9.6%.

Guidance:

Baidu said revenue for the first quarter will come in between $360.6 million and $371.2 million, ahead of the average analyst forecast of $354.2 million.

Baidu cited continued improvement in “monetization” for nearly doubling fourth-quarter revenue from a year ago. Baidu’s revenue per online marketing customer increased roughly 56 percent in the fourth quarter.

Disclosure: No position

About Mark Hanna 543 Articles

Affiliation: Hanna Capital, LLC

Mark Hanna is President and Owner of Hanna Capital, LLC, a registered investment advisory firm. Mark has been a follower of markets since the late 80s, with a focus on individual equities since the mid 90s. He has been a well known commentator in the financial blogosphere for the past 5 years, following a career in corpoporate finance and accounting. Mark attended the University of Michigan where he graduated with a degree in Economics.

As an avid reader, Market Montage is the personal blogging site for Mark to share his views on economics, markets, and the like. Occasional cynicism and wit shall be deployed in his postings.

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