Baidu posts strong Q4 results and unveils plans to list iQIYI

Baidu reveals plans to list iQIYI as it posts strong Q4 results

Baidu has revealed plans to list video platform iQIYI on the US stock exchange as the Chinese internet giant posted strong quarterly and fiscal year results.

Baidu plans to use the listing to help drive further growth for the platform, which is currently China’s leading video platform ahead of Tencent Video and Alibaba’s Youku Todou.

The search giant said while the proposed number of shares to be offered had not yet been determined, Baidu would retain a controlling share.

The move comes as China’s internet giants step up the battle for video eyeballs in China, with the video subscription market alone set to pass 220 million this year, according to eMarketer. This year has already seen a flurry of activity from Alibaba and Tencent as the internet giants jostle for top spot.

Baidu posted strong fourth quarter revenues of RMD 23.6bn ($3.72bn), up 29% year-on-year which exceeded analyst forecasts and company guidance.

The growth was driven by the company’s core search business with online marketing revenues up 26% year-on-year to reach RMB 20.4bn ($3.14bn).

It contributed to a strong fiscal year performance of RMB 84.8bn ($13.03bn) – a 20% on the previous year. Almost three-quarters (73%) of Baidu’s total revenue came from mobile, up from 63% in 2016.

The results come as Baidu continues to reposition as an artificial intelligence (AI)-first company across search and iQIYI, with a specific focus on autonomous driving and conversational AI. Baidu revealed its DuerOS is now available on more than 50 million devices in China and is now powering over 50 products, including televisions, smart speakers, smartphones, smart headsets etc with partner companies such as Haier, HTC and Vivo.

Last month Baidu announced the launch of two new artificial intelligence (AI) labs - bringing its total to five labs - along with the appointment of three senior scientists.

Robin Li, chairman and chief executive officer of Baidu, said, "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. We also look forward to further strengthening our position in autonomous driving and conversational AI, on top of the strong progress that we have made with Apollo and DuerOS in 2017," said Li.

Herman Yu, chief financial officer of Baidu, said, "Entering 2018, we plan to continue our strategy to exit non-core businesses and increase investments in Baidu's mobile and new AI businesses, which we believe play to Baidu's strengths as a technology leader and will sow the seed for Baidu's future growth in autonomous driving and conversational AI, particularly in the home environment."

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