Baidu beats quarterly revenue estimates

Men interact with a Baidu AI robot near the company logo at its headquarters in Beijing, China April 23, 2021. REUTERS/Florence Lo/File Photo

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May 26 (Reuters) – China’s search engine giant Baidu Inc on Thursday posted a net loss of 885 million yuan ($131 million) for the quarter ended March 31, amid an economic downturn and pandemic resurgence in China.

A year earlier it had posted a profit of 25.65 billion yuan, or 73.76 yuan per ADS.

Revenue rose 1% to 28.41 billion yuan, the slowest growth in six quarters, but topped an analysts’ average estimate of 27.82 billion, IBES data from Refinitiv showed.

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“Since mid-March, our business has been negatively impacted by the recent COVID-19 resurgence in China,” Robin Li, Baidu’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement, adding that challenges related to the virus will continue to pressure its operations in the near term.

Revenue for Baidu Core, which provides mainly online marketing services and products from its AI initiatives, rose 4% to $20.48 billion.

Sales from Baidu AI cloud, its public cloud service and one of the company’s fastest-growing units, jumped 45%, Chief Financial Officer Luo Rong said in the statement.

Founded as a search engine tool, the company has expanded into cloud services, robotaxis and autonomous driving in recent years as competition rises for its core search platform and advertisement business.

Last month Baidu received permits to deploy robotaxis without humans in the driving seat on open Chinese roads for the first time. read more

($1 = 6.7320 Chinese yuan renminbi)

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Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru and Yingzhi Yang in Beijing; editing by Aditya Soni and Jason Neely

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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