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May 14, 2015, 6:11 PM
- Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) has fired 8 execs, including senior sales/marketing execs, following the recent launch of a bribery probe.
- An internal memo picked up by Reuters indicates the execs were generally accused of "criminal behavior" and breaking with "company morality," but doesn't give details. The memo also states legal authorities have begun investigations, and that 5 of the execs have been detained.
- Reuters notes Baidu has 180+ employees at the director level, and (like other major Chinese tech companies) entire departments focused on uncovering misbehavior.
May 12, 2015, 12:43 AM
- Following local media reports stating three department heads are being probed, Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) confirms it has launched an internal anti-corruption investigation.
- No word on which execs or departments are being probed. Baidu reportedly fired 5 execs for bribery and illicit appropriation last November, and dismissed 4 employees for bribery in Aug. 2012.
- The latest probe comes amid the backdrop of a high-profile anti-corruption campaign by President Xi Jinping.
May 7, 2015, 5:51 PM
- The NYT reports top ride-sharing platform Uber has bid "as much as $3 billion" for Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) HERE mapping/navigation software unit, thereby hoping to top a rival bid being prepped by German automakers and Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), and one submitted by a P-E firm.
- Bloomberg previously reported Uber and the automakers were among the firms to show interest in the business after Nokia began shopping it.
- Uber (valued at over $40B in a 2014 funding round) reportedly believes HERE and its proprietary data could further its efforts to provide logistics and ride-sharing services that require advanced geospatial mapping data - the company's apps currently rely on Google Maps. HERE's ~80% share of the in-car navigation system market could also be of interest.
- NOK +1.2% AH to $6.80.
- Earlier: Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent rally following Alcatel's earnings
May 5, 2015, 9:30 AM
- Believing mobile monetization growth is set to slow and that company is facing "intense competition," JPMorgan has downgraded Baidu to Neutral in the wake of last week's mixed Q1 results and subdued Q2 guidance, and cut its target by $25 to $215.
- JPMorgan estimates Baidu's mobile ad monetization rate is now at 80%-90% of PC level, and that mobile monetization growth will be near PC levels going forward. It doubts revenue growth will "surprise on the upside" until online-to-offline (O2O) initiatives or unique mobile products take off, and notes Alibaba and Tencent have their own O2O ambitions.
- BIDU -1.2% premarket to $201.30. Yesterday, T.H. Capital upgraded Baidu to Buy, arguing mobile/local search ad initiatives (including Baidu's efforts to let advertisers target based on geography) will act as a growth driver.
- Last week: Baidu falls post-earnings; bulls pleased with mobile, offline growth
Apr. 30, 2015, 1:27 PM
- Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) has made fresh 2015 lows after missing Q1 revenue estimates (while beating on EPS) and providing slightly soft Q2 sales guidance. Shares are still well above a 52-week low of $148.44.
- The decline comes even as many on the sell-side defend Baidu, often while highlighting its strong mobile growth. Pac Crest sees Baidu getting over 60% of its revenue from mobile by year's end, up from Q1's 50% and Q4's 42%. It also thinks Baidu's "spending on online-to-offline [services] is starting to bear fruit, with progress in food delivery, movie ticketing and Baidu Wallet, which saw 26 million connected active users." Credit Suisse is also pleased with the online-to-offline growth, as well as better-than-expected Q1 margins.
- On the CC (transcript), CEO Robin Li stated Baidu's Q1 mobile search monthly active users (MAUs) totaled 600M, up from Q4's 540M, and that mobile maps MAUs reached 270M. He also mentioned Baidu is looking to grow its local/mobile search ad sales by allowing advertisers to bid on ads aimed at users in one of 300 Chinese cities.
Apr. 29, 2015, 5:07 PM
- In addition to missing Q1 revenue estimates (while beating on EPS), Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) is guiding for Q2 revenue of RMB16.365B-RMB16.75B (+36.5%-37.5% Y/Y and equal to $2.64B-$2.7B), slightly below an RMB16.65B consensus at the midpoint.
- On the bright side, mobile was 50% of Q1 revenue, up sharply from Q4's 42% and Q3's 36%. CEO Robin Li: "Baidu is redefining the search box by building an ecosystem to connect people with services and drive closed loop transactions ... we plan to fully exploit the huge growth potential ahead -- in mobile marketing, online to offline, and key select verticals such as healthcare, education and financial services..."
- Q1 online ad customers totaled 524K, nearly flat Q/Q and up 17.5% Y/Y. Revenue per online ad customer was $3,839, down 9.8% Q/Q (seasonality played a role) and up 13.9% Y/Y.
- Traffic acquisition cost growth appears to have slowed: TAC was 13.5% of revenue vs. 13.4% in Q4 and 12.4% a year ago. Also lifting EPS: SG&A spend fell 16.1% Q/Q to $477M, presumably due to lower promotional spend for Baidu products/services. On a Y/Y basis, SG&A spend rose 47.2% Y/Y (Q4 growth was 89.2%). R&D spend rose 79.1% Y/Y to $368.8M, up from Q4's 69% clip.
- BIDU -1.5% AH to $215.65.
- Q1 results, PR
Apr. 29, 2015, 4:39 PM
- Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU): Q1 EPS of RMB7.58 beats by RMB0.97.
- Revenue of RMB12.73B (+34.0% Y/Y) misses by RMB180M.
- Shares -4.8%.
Apr. 28, 2015, 5:35 PM
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Apr. 27, 2015, 12:17 PM
- Chinese Internet stocks are adding to their big recent gains following a 2.7% overnight rally in Shanghai, as investor sentiment towards Chinese equities continues improving following a string of stimulus moves. Today's gains come with the Nasdaq (took out its 2000 highs on Friday) down 0.2%.
- Baidu (BIDU +3%) is among the winners. Others include Youku (YOKU +10.7%), Vipshop (VIPS +4.1%), Dangdang (DANG +6.7%), 58.com (WUBA +3%), E-House (EJ +3.7%), 500.com (WBAI +4.3%), Sina (SINA +4.1%), Bitauto (BITA +3.1%), Autohome (ATHM +2.4%), Qunar (QUNR +3.5%), Xunlei (XNET +5.7%), and Renren (RENN +2.3%).
- Baidu's gains come ahead of its Wednesday Q1 report. Vipshop and 58.com have made fresh highs; the latter is up 61% since the first report emerged of a deal (later confirmed) with rival Ganji.com. Youku is up 53% from an April 2 post-earnings low of $12.31, and 500.com is up 47% since the company suspended all online lottery sales in early April, while stating it will work with regulators to restart sales. Renren is up 31% from its March 30 close, possibly aided by enthusiasm for its large and growing portfolio of online lending investments.
- JD.com and Sky-mobi are rallying today with the help of bullish analyst notes. Perfect World has received a lift from an improved buyout offer.
- ETFs: KWEB, CQQQ, QQQC
Apr. 17, 2015, 5:59 PM
- With Google's Android Wear platform handicapped in China by the blocking of many Google services, Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) has launched DuWear, an Android-based smartwatch OS that comes with versions of Baidu's voice search and mapping apps.
- Much like Android Wear and Apple Watch, mobile payments support, motion tracking, and heart rate monitoring are also included. Baidu promises a "major manufacturer" will launch a DuWear watch in June. In the meantime, it's releasing a ROM that lets users (if they're interested) install the OS on Android Wear devices such as the Moto 360, LG's G Watch, and Sony's SmartWatch 3.
- Baidu also claims DuWear supports some 3rd-party Android Wear apps that don't use Google's mobile services framework. The OS launch comes a month after Baidu ended support for its Cloud OS Android smartphone ROM (had seen limited uptake).
- Separately, Baidu has acquired Anquanbao, a provider of cloud-based software that protects sites against malware and DDoS attacks. The startup's clients include Tencent and major Chinese domain name service providers.
- Baidu plans to use Anquanbao's software to improve load times for its sites and protect them from security threats. Anquanbao founder/CEO Ma Jie will head Baidu's cloud security ops.
Apr. 8, 2015, 10:58 AM
- Following a big overnight rally in Hong Kong (followed a 3-day holiday during which Shanghai rallied), beaten-down Chinese Internet and mobile stocks have soared in U.S. trading.
- The biggest gainers include many names that are far below their 2014 highs: The group includes Qihoo (QIHU +10.5%), YY (YY +14.9%), Taomee (TAOM +14.3%), Sina (SINA +8.7%), and Weibo (WB +12.1%). Mobile game publishers Sky-mobi (MOBI +12.6%), China Mobile Games (CMGE +8%), and iDreamSky (DSKY +13.4%) are also sharply higher, as are online real estate plays SouFun (SFUN +13.1%), E-House (EJ +6.1%), and Leju (LEJU +9.8%).
- Giants Alibaba (BABA +3.4%) and Baidu (BIDU +4.1%) aren't being left out. Neither are Youku (YOKU +7.5%), 21Vianet (VNET +7.4%), Momo (MOMO +6.8%), Sohu (SOHU +7.7%), Changyou (CYOU +4.5%), Dangdang (DANG +7.3%), Vipshop (VIPS +4.8%), JD.com (JD +3.9%), Jumei (JMEI +6.6%), Sungy Mobile (GOMO +5.8%), China Techfaith (CNTF +7.1%), and KongZhong (KZ +5.5%).
- Alibaba has proposed an asset injection into its money-losing Alibaba Pictures (+36% in Hong Kong) film arm. Sky-mobi has seen Rosenblatt (Buy) hike its target to $11, while noting many Chinese mobile game developers have been bought out; it thinks Sky-mobi's investments in developers could be worth $140M. NetEase has been upgraded by CICC Research.
- Over in Hong Kong, software/cloud services provider Kingsoft (OTCPK:KSFTF) rose 24.2% to HKD$29.50. Messaging/gaming giant Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY) rose 3.3% to HKD$154.80.
- ETFs: KWEB, CQQQ, QQQC
Mar. 27, 2015, 2:20 PM
- Qunar's (QUNR +6.3%) post-earnings rally has refused to let up. Shares are now up 41% since China's #2 online travel firm beat Q4 estimates and issued strong Q1 guidance on March 16.
- With Qunar now sporting a $4.9B market cap, shares go for nearly 10x a 2015 revenue consensus of $492.6M. Majority owner Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) has to be pleased with the jump in Qunar's equity value.
Mar. 25, 2015, 10:58 AM
- Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) and top search rival Qihoo (NYSE:QIHU) are selling off in early trading. The Nasdaq is down 0.6%, and the Shanghai exchange fell 0.8% overnight.
- Possibly hurting the companies: The health industry chamber of commerce for the city of Putian (a major healthcare services hub) has ordered its members to stop buying medical ads.
- Trader Marc Lehman observes 20% of Baidu's revenue comes from medical ads. HSBC reported last year Putian businessmen run at least 8K of the 10,877 private Chinese hospitals that existed nationwide as of Oct. '13 (per government data).
- Separately, Chinese tutoring services provider Xueda (XUE) has announced the creation of an online education JV with Qihoo. The JV, known as Sunshine Rabbit Technology, currently has less than $5M in registered capital.
- Last week, Bloomberg reported Sohu/Tencent's Sogou search unit is planning an IPO with a $3B+ valuation. That arguably reflects well on Qihoo, which had an estimated 17.3% Q4 search share to Sogou's 6.9% (Baidu was at 74.4%), and whose Web/mobile empire is assigned a total current market cap of $6.3B.
Mar. 20, 2015, 12:20 PM
- #3 Chinese search engine Sogou is planning an IPO that will feature a $3B+ valuation, Bloomberg reports. Sources add Sogou, which is controlled by Sohu (SOHU +3.7%), could see an offering in 2H15.
- Sogou has been easily outgrowing Sohu's portal and gaming ops: Its revenue rose 70% Y/Y in Q4 to $119M. It had an estimated 6.9% Q4 Chinese search share, trailing Baidu's (NASDAQ:BIDU) 74.4% and Qihoo's (NYSE:QIHU) 17.3%.
- Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY) bought a 40.9% stake in Sogou in 2013 for $516M, and has integrated Sogou's services with its wildly popular WeChat mobile messaging platform (recently hit 500M MAUs). Aside from search, Sogou's services include a Web directory, games, and popular Chinese-language typing software (Sogou Pinyin).
Mar. 11, 2015, 6:48 PM
- Baidu Cloud OS, a custom Android ROM launched by the Chinese search giant in 2012 (and bundled with plenty of Baidu apps/services), is being shut down after seeing limited uptake. Its design team has been folded into a new (unnamed) Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) unit.
- Baidu's considerable success in driving the use of its apps/services on other versions of Android (as well as iOS) likely had much to do with its decision to abandon Cloud OS. Mobile accounted for 42% of the company's Q4 revenue, with mobile search traffic exceeding PC search traffic.
- Meanwhile, CEO Robin Li says Baidu might introduce an autonomous car later this year, and has been working with automakers on the project; details are scant on the car's features and test partners. Last year, Baidu announced an R&D partnership with China's BKW related to self-driving technology. Google has built multiple self-driving car prototypes, and is hoping to commercialize a model by 2020.
Feb. 13, 2015, 11:29 AM
- Shares of Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) have recovered entirely from their post-earnings decline as dip-buyers lift the stock +4.4%, to $213.61.
- A set of downgrades followed Baidu's light Q1 outlook: Stifel Nicolaus downgraded shares to Hold, and Brean Capital and Jefferies Group lowered price targets (to $250 and $253 respectively), but maintained Buy ratings.
- Volume on the shares has surpassed its daily average.
- More analyst outlooks
- Previously: Baidu tumbles below $200 on revenue miss, light Q1 outlook (Feb. 11 2015)
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