Baidu Q4 profit growth slowest in 3 years

Chinese Internet company books 35 percent rise in net profit at US$448.7 million, amid slowing revenue growth as competition heats up.

Chinese online search company Baidu has posted its slowest growth in profit since 2009 amid rising competition.

In a statement Monday, Baidu announced net income for the three months ended December reached 2.8 billion yuan (US$448.7 million), a 36.1 percent year-on-year jump. Revenue was up 41.6 percent at 6.34 billion yuan (US$1.017 billion).

Robin Li, chairman and CEO of Baidu, said: "Baidu once again posted solid growth in 2012 amidst challenging macro conditions ."

Online marketing revenues for the fourth quarter was at 6.29 billion yuan (US$1.01 billion) which was a 40.8 percent jump from the corresponding period in 2011.

Excluding the group-buying customers of its majority-owned subsidiary online travel search service Qunar.com , Baidu had 406,000 active online marketing customers during the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase of 30.5 percent compared with the same period last year. Revenue per online marketing customer for the fourth quarter of 2012 was about 15,500 yuan (US$2,488), up 7.6 percent from the same period in 2011.

For the financial year of 2012, revenue reached 22.3 billion yuan (US$3.58 billion)--a 53.8 percent increase from 2011.

In the statement, Li, reiterated the company's vision of tapping the "next stage of mobile- and cloud-centric Internet growth. "

There is huge potential for the mobile Internet in China as the population increasingly moves from 2G to faster 3G networks. A Baidu report  published in November said 76.7 percent of its traffic came from 2G networks.

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