Baidu's revenue beats expectations
Baidu, the world's largest Chinese search engine, released its annual financial report on Friday, beating industry expectations thanks to accelerating growth from the mobile Internet service market.
The Internet giant raked in 66.382 billion yuan (10.16 billion U.S.dollars) in revenue last year, up 35.3 percent year on year, and beating Wall Street analyst predictions of 66.3 billion yuan. Its net profits were 33.664 billion yuan in 2015, up 155.1 percent year on year, according to the financial report.
In the fourth quarter, Baidu recorded a revenue of 18.699 billion yuan, up 33.1 percent year on year, with income from mobile services accounting for 56 percent of total revenue.
The NASDAQ-listed company saw its shares rise by 11.24 percent thanks to the impressive financial report.
Baidu users on mobile devices surged last year, with active mobile search engine users reaching 657 million by the end of 2015, up 21 percent year on year, while those using Baidu's map service reached 302 million, up 43 percent year on year.
"2015 was a landmark year for Baidu as we made breakthroughs in online marketing and services. We will continue to benefit from rising demand for services thanks to China's continuous improvements in consumption," said Robin Li, board chair and CEO of Baidu.
The leading search engine started to make forays into consumer services such as group buying, online payment and food delivery in 2015, and it has become an integrated platform linking technology, content and services.
E-commerce, location-based services, online finance, medical services and educational training, which are all part of the service sector, were the biggest contributors to Baidu's revenue last year, according to Robin Li.
Trade volume from its group buying, online payment, food delivery and other online-to-offline services grew 397 percent in Q4 year on year, according to the report.
"The service is enjoying a rosy future thanks to the country's policy support, such as the 'Internet Plus' action plan, amid downward economic pressure. Internet companies are playing an increasingly important role to the consumption upgrading process by linking more users with more businesses," he added.
As China tries to wean its economy from lopsided dependence on investment and foreign trade, consumption, services and innovation are emerging to become new drivers of growth.
Consumption expanded 10.7 percent year on year and contributed 66.4 percent to China's economic growth in 2015, compared with 51 percent in 2014, encouraged by continued rapid income growth, improved social security and better supply of goods.
Statistics by the Ministry of Commerce showed that during the Spring Festival "golden week" from Feb. 7 to 13, revenue of retailers and restaurants in China reached 754 billion yuan for year-on-year growth of 11.2 percent.
According to China UnionPay, which is used for all bank card transactions on the Chinese mainland, people who bought dinner using their cards rose by 6 percent this Lunar New Year compared with last year, with the average price of each dinner around 585 yuan.
Consumption in China will continue to grow at a rapid pace in 2016, Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng said early this week.
Baidu will continue to invest in online marketing and service and trading, according to Li Xinxi, chief financial officer with Baidu, who predicted the company's revenue in the first quarter this year to be between 15.41 billion yuan and 15.97 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of between 21.1 percent and 25.5 percent.
"We will benefit from China's booming consumption and become part of the driving force for a more balanced and sustainable service market," Robin Li added.
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