Baidu profit growth slows as mobile passes PC revenue, spending to attract users rises

Baidu Inc., which operates China's most popular Internet search engine, said Thursday its quarterly profit rose 16 percent but growth slowed as it spent more to attract users to its mobile services.

The Beijing-based company earned 3.2 billion yuan ($520.4 million) in the three months ending Dec. 31. Revenue rose 47.5 percent to 14 billion yuan ($2.3 billion).

Profit growth declined from the previous quarter's 27 percent as spending on promoting mobile services soared by 89.2 percent over a year earlier.

Chinese Internet companies are spending heavily to attract users as they shift quickly to going online with smartphones and other wireless devices.

Baidu said mobile services accounted for 42 percent of total revenue, passing its traditional desktop personal computer business for the first time.

"We've successfully transitioned from a PC-centric to a mobile-first company," said chairman Robin Li in a statement.

For full-year 2014, profit rose 25.4 percent over a year earlier to 13.2 billion yuan ($2.1 billion). Revenue rose 53.6 percent to 49 billion yuan ($7.9 billion). Mobile represented 37 percent of full-year revenue.

Over the past two years, Baidu has spent heavily to expand its mobile offerings and to invest in e-commerce, taxi hailing and other businesses.

"2015 will be an important year for Baidu as we execute on our plan and invest for the next phase of mobile growth," said CFO Jennifer Li.


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