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Baidu's Profits Soar

Chinese Internet search provider posts healthy profits and revenue in the fourth quarter.
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Updated from 5:52 p.m. EST

SAN FRANCISCO - Chinese language Internet search provider


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posted a jump in fourth-quarter profit, handily topping expectations on Wall Street.

The company earned 219.8 million yuan ($30.1 million), or 6.32 yuan a share (87 cents). That compared with 122.8 yuan, or 3.54 yuan a share, a year ago. The company did not provide conversion rates for the year-ago quarter.

Sales in the fourth quarter rose to 571.1 million yuan ($78.3 million), from 271.3 million yuan a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial estimated a profit of 72 cents a share on revenue of $77 million.

"We are pleased to report another quarter of solid results, with healthy earnings growth demonstrating the scalability of our business model," said Baidu Chief Executive Robin Li.

"These results were driven by our continued strategy of enhancing our product and service offerings to ensure the best user experience. Our efforts were rewarded by increases in our user traffic and expansion of our market share, further strengthening our position as the leader in Chinese language search."

The bulk of Baidu's revenue came from online marketing, totaling 569.6 million yuan ($78.1 million). The growth was driven by an increase in the number of active online marketing customers as well as sales per customer, the company said.

Baidu had more than 155,000 active online marketing customers in the fourth quarter, marking a 43.5% jump from the same period a year ago.

Traffic acquisition costs as a component of cost of revenue totaled 72.3 million yuan ($9.9 million), which represented 12.7% of total revenue. The increase reflected continued growth of revenue contribution from Baidu union members, the company said.

Baidu now expects first-quarter revenue to range between 533 million yuan ($73.1 million) to 548 million yuan ($75.1 million). Analysts were expecting first-quarter revenue of $77 million.

Shares of Baidu were up $19, or 7.3%, to $280.09 in after-hours trading.