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'Chinese Google' enjoys record profits

Baidu.com grows during World Cup

Internet searches surged during the World Cup, helping Baidu.com score its best quarter ever in terms of revenue and net profit.

China's largest internet search provider said revenue surged 74 percent from last year to a record US$282.3 million, while net profit climbed 119 percent to $123.5 million.

Baidu credited healthy growth in its customer base and improved efficiency for the strong performance, but also noted the surge in Internet search related to the World Cup. The first game of the competition kicked off on June 11 and the final was played July 11.

"This quarter's strong performance also underscores the vast Internet market opportunities for us and the growing appreciation for search engine marketing in China," said Robin Li, Baidu's chairman and CEO, in a statement.

Analysts have said that Baidu also gained from Google's decision last March to re-route China-based searches through Hong Kong to avoid censorship laws in China. Some advertisers dropped Google and turned to Baidu.

Investors sent shares of Baidu stock up 3.2 percent, or $2.33, to $75.64 in after-market trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, after the company reported its results.

During a conference call, one analyst asked Baidu about its plans for a mobile phone operating system to rival Google's Android. News sources in China have reported that Baidu is working on a mobile OS, but the company declined to comment specifically on any project.

"Over the past few years, we've seen faster growth in mobile search versus PC search but it's still a very small percentage of our search traffic," Li said on the call. He noted that most people in China don't have 3G mobile phones, making Internet search less popular than PC search, but that "going forward, we think the cell phone will take over and mobile traffic will take over."

"We have a number of very exciting projects going on internally and obviously we are excited about the mobile Internet going forward," he said.

The company expects its third quarter to be even better than its record-breaking second quarter, forecasting revenue of $324.4 million.


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