Goldman has raised its 2014-2016 Baidu (BIDU +10.9%) EPS estimates by 17%-23% following its sizable Q2 EPS beat and above-consensus Q3 guidance, and hiked its target by $35 to $260. BofA/Merrill, Deutsche, and Piper have also raised their Baidu PTs.
Goldman was pleased with several datapoints provided in the Q2 report and CC (transcript). Among them: 1) Baidu topped 500M mobile search monthly active users (MAUs) in June. 2) Maps MAUs have passed 200M. 3) Baidu's app distribution platforms (led by 91 Wireless) averaged 130M downloads/day in Q2. 4) The Nuomi daily deals unit (acquired from Renren) has seen its user base double since Q4.
BofA/Merrill observes Baidu's aggressive spending growth is now being fueled more by hiring than by marketing spend, something it expects will translate into future leverage. Marketing spend fell to 11.5% of revenue from 14.1% in Q1, while R&D grew to 14.6% from 13.6%.