Baidu reports jump in profits in the fourth quarter
China’s dominant search engine Baidu nearly doubled its profit in the fourth quarter as it pushed into areas related to artificial intelligence, including autonomous driving and smart speakers.
Profit for the three months that ended in December 2019 jumped 95 percent to 9.2 billion yuan (US$1.32 billion) while revenue was 6 percent higher to 28.88 billion yuan from a year ago.
"We finished 2019 making tremendous progress in strengthening Baidu’s mobile ecosystem, and built leadership in smart devices, smart transportation and enterprise cloud solutions with Baidu’s leading AI technologies,” said Chief Executive Officer Robin Li.
Average daily active users advanced 21 percent from a year ago to 195 million in December, and in-app search queries also jumped nearly 30 percent after improved users' experience by incorporating wide range of information and services.
Coronavirus epidemic-related search requests added 30 percent and search demand has also extended to other Baidu digital services.
Revenue from video-streaming unit iQIYI went up 7 percent to 7.5 billion yuan with membership subscription income growing 21 percent year over year.
Online marketing income dipped 2 percent to 20.8 billion yuan.
The number of monthly voice queries through its voice assistant interface DuerOS exceeded 5 billion.
Its video-streaming affiliate could also benefit in the coming months as online viewers spend more leisure time on digital entertainment.
It expects revenue for the first quarter to be between 21 billion yuan and 22.9 billion yuan, representing a year-over-year decline of between 5 and 13 percent.