NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of Baidu (BIDU - Get Report) got a lift late Thursday after the China-based Internet search provider cruised past Wall Street's consensus profit view for its fiscal fourth quarter.
The company reported net income of $326.3 million, or 93 cents a share, in the three-month period on revenue of $710.9 million. The average analysts' view was for earnings of 89 cents a share in the December-ended quarter.
For the current quarter ending in March, Baidu sees revenue of $666.5 million to $688 million. The fourth-quarter revenue total was up 82.5% from last year's equivalent quarter.
The stock was last quoted at $145.09, up 2.3%, on volume of nearly 2 million, according to Nasdaq.com. The shares have ranged between a high of $148.50 and a low of $136.04 in the extended session."Driven by strong top line growth, Baidu enjoyed great margins in 2011, as we continued to aggressively invest in infrastructure and talent," said Jennifer Li, the company's chief financial officer, in a statement. "Looking ahead, we will continue to focus on driving top line growth and invest at a robust pace to develop and capture long term market opportunities." Baidu said traffic acquisition costs ticked lower in the latest quarter as a percentage of revenue of 7.9%, or $56.2 million, from 8.1% in the same period a year earlier. Both selling, general and administrative expenses and R&D costs rose year-over-year, totaling $83 million and $65.7 million respectively. Always a fairly volatile stock, Baidu shares are up 7.6% in the past year but that reflects an 18%-plus gain since the start of 2012. The stock hit a 52-week high of $165.96 in late July then sank as low as $100.95 on Sept. 30 before rallying back to close Thursday's regular session at $141.83. At current levels, the shares trade at a forward price-to-earnings multiple of 31.2X, compared to 12.2X for Google (GOOG), and a little below 12.8X for the S&P 500. -- Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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