Baidu Knows Best
It's nice to know that Chinese growth stock investors can always count on Baidu (NAS: BIDU) .
The country's top search engine posted blowout quarterly results yesterday.
Revenue soared 83% to $710.9 million, as earnings climbed 77% to $0.93 a share. Analysts were expecting a quarterly profit of $0.91 a share on $708.6 million.
There are now 311,000 online marketing customers using Baidu to smoke out new leads, 13% ahead of Baidu's Rolodex thickness a year earlier. What does it mean when revenue is far outpacing advertiser count? You got it. The average marketing customer is now spending 62% more.
Baidu's doing and saying all the right things. Its guidance for the current quarter -- calling for $666.5 million to $688 million in revenue -- is lower than its fourth-quarter top-line showing, but this is a seasonal business. Internet companies in China historically take a step back in the first quarter. Year over year, we're still looking at an impressive 72% to 78% spurt. Analysts are essentially parked at the midpoint of Baidu's range, so it's not a shocker.
Chinese online portal Sohu.com (NAS: SOHU) did shock the market last week with its disappointing near-term outlook. Sohu warned of a sharp drop in profitability and revenue to slide sequentially by 9% to 14%. Baidu's seasonal sequential decline will be between 3% and 6%.
Baidu isn't cheap. The stock is trading for 48 times this year's projected profitability and 31 times next year's income estimate.
Global search leader Google (NAS: GOOG) is considerably cheaper on an earnings multiple, but it's also growing a lot slower. Big G's stock took a hit last month after it clocked in with weaker-than-expected earnings growth of 9%.
Yandex (NAS: YNDX) is cheaper than Baidu, but not as cheap as Google. Russia's leading search engine is a smart play on the Internet migration taking place in Eastern Europe, but investors looking for the best play in China are down to Baidu. Market researcher Analysys International claims that Baidu's share of the market was a whopping 78.3% in the fourth quarter.
Given its consistent past performance and its promising future, Baidu's proving that it's the world's top Internet investment.
Bullish on Baidu
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. Baidu has soared 1,601% since I recommended it to Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers six years ago, but now it's time to discover the next Rule-Breaking multibagger. It's a free report. Want it? Get it.
At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Sohu.com, Baidu, and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure 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.