Friday, July 24, 2009

Baidu (BIDU) Blows the Doors Off - Phoenix [Nest] Rising

Believe it or not, we own Baidu (BAIDU) but certainly not enough and it has been sitting as a 'placeholder' position for 3 months now. We sold most of our stake 6 weeks into the monster rally off the March 6th low. Oops. That sort of mistake is ok, the real mistake was never jumping back in. Difficult for me to chase into stocks at 60x forward earnings but I appear to be the only one. The stock is now up over 200 points from our re-entry in late February [Feb 27, 2009: Restarting]

I've always had a tough time with Baidu's valuation but as I stated yesterday you have a small group of select stocks i.e. (AMZN) which just never truly get "cheap". Since we own it might as well discuss the earnings report. (as an aside it appears to have changed its name from to Baidu?) Full report here. Amazingly, the stock was down in after hours yesterday to $325. Today? Not so much.

Looks like "Phoenix Nest" is already a big hit.

Via Reuters
  • Chinese Internet search leader Baidu Inc (BIDU) expects sales to grow faster than market forecasts in the third quarter, helped by rising customer acceptance of its new advertising system.
  • Already, the roll out of the advertisement keyword bidding system -- Phoenix Nest, similar to Google Inc's (GOOG) AdWords -- played a part in Baidu's better-than-expected second-quarter revenue growth of 37 percent, along with China's rapidly growing number of Internet users.
  • Baidu reported net income of $56.1 million, or $1.61 a share, for the second quarter, compared with $38.6 million, or $1.11 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding the effects of stock-based compensation, Baidu earned $1.71 a share, above analysts' average expectation of $1.56 a share, according to Reuters Estimates. ( Revenue grew to $161 million in the second quarter from $117 million in the year-ago period, beating analysts' average forecast of $158 million.
  • For the third quarter, Baidu projected sales of $184 million to $189 million, compared with the average analyst estimate of $178.9 million. "We expect the benefits of Phoenix Nest to ramp up in the quarter to come, in terms of enhanced monetisation and as well as improved ad relevancy," Chief Executive Robin Li told a conference call.
  • Jennifer Li, Baidu's chief financial officer, said the firm was expecting higher costs in the third quarter because Baidu was hiring more sales people for Phoenix Nest and hosting a forum in that period.
  • Phoenix Nest will display paid links and keywords on the right side of Baidu's search page and will provide clients with statistical functions. "The new bidding system should lead to more targeted results and higher revenue over time," Steve Weinstein, an analyst from Pacific Crest Securities said in a note.
  • The company said the number of online marketing customers using its site increased 9.7 percent quarter-over-quarter to 203,000 in the second quarter.
  • Baidu, the No. 1 search engine in China, controlled 61.6 percent of China's search market in the second quarter, according to Analysys International. The firm is holding off rival Google Inc (GOOG), which held 29 percent of the China search market. According to a Deutsche Bank note, web traffic to Baidu increased gradually since late March while traffic to Google China remained flattish.
  • Analysts expect Phoenix Nest to be a key growth driver for Baidu in the upcoming quarters as China's search market continues to expand at a rapid pace. The market grew 47 percent year-on-year in the second quarter to 18.1 billion yuan ($2.6 billion), according to data from Analysys International.
[Apr 27, 2009: Beats & Provides Nice Top Line Guidance]
[Dec 11, 2008: - Lowers Guidance, Stock is Up]
[Nov 18, 2008: Not a Good Week for Chinese Dot Coms]
[Oct 24, 2008: Crunched on China Economic Fears]
[Jul 23, 2008:, - Party Like It's 1999?]

(Barely) long Baidu in fund; no personal position

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