An employee of Baidu wearing a face mask uses his phone at the company’s headquarters in Beijing, following the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, China May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang – RC2YQG93JJYN

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) – Concise insights on global finance in the Covid-19 era.


SLOW AND STEADY. China’s search engine operator Baidu is finally getting somewhere with its artificial intelligence bets. Sales in the quarter ending in December rose 5% year-on-year to $4.6 billion. That was powered by a 52% surge in cloud computing and other non-advertising revenue, which now comprise 14% of total revenue.

Boss Robin Li’s scattershot efforts to find new sources of growth are finally finding some momentum too, particularly in autonomous driving. Baidu already operates a fleet of robotaxis and buses in Guangzhou, and supplies self-driving software, maps, and infotainment systems to local carmakers. Last month, it unveiled a joint venture with Geely to make intelligent electric vehicles.

That’s all to the good, but shares are up 130% over the past year, trading at roughly 30 times forecast earnings, Refinitiv data shows, nearly double its two-year average. That looks premature. The company warns it could take 3 years to bring a vehicle to market. Investors risk putting the self-driving car before the profit horse. (By Robyn Mak)


Reuters Breakingviews is the world’s leading source of agenda-setting financial insight. As the Reuters brand for financial commentary, we dissect the big business and economic stories as they break around the world every day. A global team of about 30 correspondents in New York, London, Hong Kong and other major cities provides expert analysis in real time.

Sign up for a free trial of our full service at and follow us on Twitter @Breakingviews and at All opinions expressed are those of the authors.


Read More

Reuters Staff