Baidu Reports Strong Q4 Heading into Uncertain Q1

On February 27, after postponing their original earnings release, Baidu announced its unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2019. Chairman and CEO Robin Li said they made “tremendous progress in strengthening Baidu’s mobile ecosystem.” The fourth quarter results were strong, beating analyst expectations, but the company warned of a slow Q1 for 2020 given the evolving impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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In Q4 of 2019, the Chinese tech giant reported a total revenue of 28.9 billion yuan ($4.15 billion) and a Non-GAAP net income attributable to Baidu of 9.2 billion yuan ($1.32 billion), up 95 % from the same quarter the year before. Baidu’s annual revenue in 2019 reached 107.4 billion yuan ($15.4 billion), which shows a 5% increase year over year. However, the annual Non-GAAP net income attributable to Baidu fell 24% to 18.2 billion yuan ($2.61 billion).

“Baidu App’s spanning mobile ecosystem has resulted in more users logging in, DAUs growing robustly to 195 million in December, up 21% year over year, and in-app search queries increasing almost 30% year over year,” said CEO Robin Li.

He also stated that the improvement of the Baidu App was made possible by the building blocks of features including BJH publisher accounts, Smart Mini Programs and Managed Pages.

Besides the Baidu App, the CEO highlighted Baidu’s new AI businesses, which he claimed “have also made great strides in 2019.” He mentioned smart devices, smart transportation and enterprise cloud solutions, which were enabled by “Baidu’s leading AI technologies.“

CFO Herman Yu said on the call, “Our leaner financial model and strong balance sheet put us in a good position to weather the slowing macro, while continuing to invest heavily in technology and new businesses, to optimize future growth.”

In an internal letter revealed by China Business Network, Robin Li responded to the recent coronavirus outbreak and said,“ economic recovery will be a long-term issue after the epidemic is over, and a large number of new opportunities are also emerging.”