Baidu Wants the World -- and It Wants It Now
Baidu (NAS: BIDU) wants you to know that it's brushing up on other languages.
China's leading search engine is building a new office in southern China dedicated to Baidu's international pursuits. The new center in Shenzhen won't open for three years, but it's another step in the dot-com darling's push to be seen as more than just China's search engine of choice.
Baidu rolled into Japan in 2008, but it hasn't made much of a dent. Japan is too established. It's one of the few countries where Yahoo! (NAS: YHOO) -- yes, Yahoo! -- is the top dog. Yahoo!'s early alliance with hometown fave Softbank helped make Yahoo! Japan the island nation's top dog. Google (NAS: GOOG) has to settle for silver in Japan, just as it has in China.
Last year, Baidu revealed that it plans on introducing its search platform in a dozen different foreign languages. Products in Arabic and Thai debuted four months ago, and more will clearly follow.
Is it too late for Baidu? Companies have been successful outside of their home market. Russia's Yandex (NAS: YNDX) has a presence in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. Google may not be the leader in China, but it does lead in the world's second most populous country: India.
However, there's something to be said about stepping into a country where the medals have already been doled out. Sure, Google was an underdog to Yahoo! in the U.S. once, but the entire market is far more established and defined these days.
Baidu's best shot is reaching out to countries doing business with China. Sure, it can always cook up a proprietary hit that goes viral globally. Who would have figured that China's SINA (NAS: SINA) -- one of the earliest Internet portals -- would be the one to introduce the Twitter of China through SINA Weibo?
However, Baidu investors need to be realistic. The international endeavors will be incremental, but it will take years for them to move the needle (if they move the needle at all).
Thankfully, this is something that Baidu doesn't need to move its stock higher.
Shares of Baidu are fetching just 28 times this year's projected profitability. That may not seem cheap, but keep in mind that analysts see the Chinese speedster growing revenue and earnings by 56% and 54%, respectively, this year.
A bullish call on Baidu has served me well on Motley Fool CAPS over the years. True to the CAPScall initiative, I'm not going to give up on it now when I see the value so compelling. Whether it proves to be a mad world or a small world for Baidu, growth in China alone will be enough to keep Baidu coasting along nicely.
At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Yahoo! and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Yahoo!, Baidu, and Sina. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.