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By Leena Rao

Chinese search engine Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) posted strong earnings today, with total revenue in the third quarter of 2011 coming in at $654.7 million, an 85.1% increase from the same period in 2010. Baidu’s net income was up 80% to $295 million. Diluted earnings for the third quarter of 2011 were $0.84, non-GAAP earnings were $0.86. Baidu beat Wall Street expectations, analysts expected a profit of $0.83.

Robin Li, chairman and chief executive officer of Baidu said in a release, “Baidu recorded stellar results in the third quarter driven by rapid growth in customer spending and user traffic. In particular, spending by large customers significantly outperformed our expectations as we continued to build strong relationships with high quality companies. China’s search industry is still in its early stages, and as the clear industry leader we see enormous room for continuing growth as users and online marketing customers become increasingly sophisticated.”

Operating profit in the third quarter of 2011 was $349.1 million, an 88.5% increase from the corresponding period in 2010. Online marketing revenues for the third quarter of 2011 were $654.4 million, representing an 85.1% increase from the corresponding period in 2010.

Baidu had approximately 304,000 active online marketing customers in the third quarter of 2011, representing an 11.8% increase from 2010 and a 2% increase from the previous quarter. Revenue per online marketing customer for the third quarter was approximately $2,148, a 65.1% increase from 2010 and a 19.1% increase from the previous quarter.

As of September 30, 2011, Baidu had cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of $1.8 billion.

During the quarter, Baidu closed its $306 investment in Chinese travel site Qunar. Baidu now has 77% of the search market share in China.

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Source: Baidu's Q3 Revenue Up 85%, Profit Up 80%