Baidu Q1 profit up 8.5 percent amid rising investment in mobile

Chinese search giant saw R&D costs rise 77 percent to US$136.6 million--nearly a third of profit--as it continues to invest heavily in building its mobile ecosystem, where traction is picking up with 25 percent more users.

Baidu posted a 40 percent revenue growth in the first quarter of 2013, with soaring R&D costs, but states its mobile offering is making progress.

In a statement released Thursday, China's largest search engine announced its total revenue rose 40 percent from 5.97 billion yuan (US$961 million) from the same quarter last year. Its net income increased 8.5 percent to 2.04 billion yuan (US$331 million).


CEO Robin Li said in the statement the firm's mobile offering was " making exciting progress ", with the flagship mobile search products having now surpassed 100 million daily active users, more than 25 percent from the end of the fourth quarter.

According to the statement, Baidu had 410,000 active online marketing customers in the quarter, a 27.7 increase from the first quarter of 2012, and 1 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2012.

Higher sales but spending per customer declines

Revenue per online marketing customer had been 14,500 yuan (US$2,335), a 9 percent increase from first quarter of 2012. However, this was a 6.5 percent decrease compared to the fourth quarter fo 2012.

Moving forward, the firm also expects to generate total revenues of 7.37 billion yuan (US$1.187 billion) to 7.56 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) in the second quarter of 2013, a 35.1 percent to 38.4 percent year-on-year increase.

R&D costs soar, but remains focus

Baidu's research and development (R&D) expenses were 810.7 million yuan (US$136.6 million). This was an increase of 77.2 percent from the same period in 2012, primarily due to an increase in the number of R&D personnel.

"Our focus will remain on tightly integrating our leading search core with valuable vertical products in areas such as travel, e-commerce and location based services to bring users the information they want as quickly as possible on both desktop and mobile devices," Robin Li said.


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