Baidu sees 2017 revenue climb 20 percent, eyes iQiyi IPO

Chinese search engine clocks US$13.03 billion in revenue for the year, with mobile generating 73 percent, and plans to take its online video subsidiary iQiyi public in the US.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Baidu has reported a 20 percent year-on-year increase in revenue for its fiscal 2017, ended December 30, and unveiled plans to list its online video subsidiary iQiyi in the US.

It wrapped up the year with US$13.03 billion (84.8 billion yuan) in revenue, with mobile contributing 73 percent of the total figure, up from 63 percent in 2016. Operating profit climbed 56 percent to hit US$2.41 billion (15.7 billion yuan) , said the Chinese search company.

For the fourth quarter of 2017, Baidu saw revenues climb 29 percent year-on-year to US$3.62 billion (23.6 billion yuan), while operating profit grew 12 percent to hit US$734 million (4.8 billion yuan). Mobile drove 76 percent of total revenue for the quarter, up from 65 percent the same quarter in 2016.

In its statement, Baidu said its online video subsidiary iQiyi had filed a draft registration for a proposed IPO in the US, but added that it had yet to determine the number of depository shares to offer. It said it would remain iQiti's controlling shareholder after the completion of the proposed IPO.

Baidu CFO Herman Yu said its fourth-quarter results had exceeded its own guidance and, in 2018, would continue the company's strategy to "exit non-core businesses" and increase investments in its mobile and artificial intelligence (AI) businesses.

This, Yu said, would "sow the seed" for Baidu's future growth in autonomous driving and conversational AI, specifically, in homes.

Baidu CEO and Chairman Robin Li added: "In 2017, Baidu sharpened its strategic focus. We strengthened our management team and built strong momentum by adopting AI-first in our mobile businesses and investing in new AI businesses. As we enter 2018, we will continue to strengthen Baidu's search business, fuel feed's growth and differentiate iQiyi with AI."

The company underscored the importance of its autonomous driving platform Apollo and DuerOS, which supported chatbots and voice-assist systems. It released Apollo 2.0 in January and unveiled an upgraded version of DuerOS 2.0.

Baidu said it planned to establish a US$1.5 billion (10 billion yuan) Apollo fund to invest in autonomous driving and drive the platform's ecosystem.

Last year, the company spent US$1.99 billion (12.9 billion yuan) on research and development (R&D).

According to Baidu, its first-quarter 2018 revenue was expected to increase between 25 percent and 32 percent year-on-year to reach between US$3.05 billion and US$3.22 billion (19.86 billion yuan and 20.97 billion yuan).

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