This story was written by Rory Maher.
In a sign of the strength of the search market in China, Baidu (NSDQ: BIDU) first quarter 2009 revenue was up 41 percent year on year, to $118.6 million, and operating profit jumped 32 percent, to $29.1 million. Earnings per share was $0.76. Analysts had been expecting revenue of $115 million and EPS of $0.74.
Baidu, which controls 64 percent of the Chinese search market, said it expected second-quarter 2009 revenue to grow between 32 percent and 36 percent.
Highlights for the quarter include:
The number of active marketing customers grew to 185,000, or 15 percent more than the first quarter in 2008.
Revenue per online marketing customer dropped 4.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008 to $644, indicating ad rates are showing weakness in what is proving to be a softer-than-expected Chinese economy (though the company said the timing of the Chinese New Year versus last year contributed to the decline).
The company spent more to acquire users: its traffic acquisition costs as a percentage of revenue increased to 15.3 percent versus 13.3 percent during the same period in 2008.
By Rory Maher