As the only internet search provider that has consistently shown promising growth in China, Baidu.com, Inc. (ADR) (NASDAQ: BIDU) is a sure hotshot in the media sector and an emerging threat to the top dogs. That is definitely a no brainer, considering its three-year period of invariable ups in terms of revenue, operating profit, and net income. In fact, in the third quarter of 2012 its revenue surged to $994.6 million, which was equivalent to a 49.7% increase from its recorded revenue in the same period of the previous year. Recent surveys revealed that the Baidu search engine is now the most preponderant website in the whole of China, accounting for about 76.0% of the overall web search market in the land. Now, considering it’ss being one of the biggest movers and shakers of the Chinese media industry, can investors deem it time to believe that Baidu is finally braced up to sweep rivals aside and dethrone Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) as the top banana?
Locking Horns with Google Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG)
Google Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) is thus far the best-received search engine on the internet. Since its IPO in 2004, the share price of Google has exponentially grown by up to 500%. But the Chinese dominion was there to serve as its booby trap. In 2005, the Chinese government froze out Google all throughout the Chinese market, and Google China lost substantial share. Baidu, then on its downtime, stood in good stead and took the Chinese government’s “off-limits” policy against Google Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) China as room for growth. The firm saw the potential of the immense Chinese community and tapped it in hopes of boosting its share of the market. As luck would have it, Baidu was able to generate considerably high net margin and asset turnovers. The firm dominated the market with its 83.6% share, while Google grew limp with only 11.1%. Looking at its splashy revenue and earnings growth since 2005, it is beyond question that Baidu’s control of the Chinese market equips it with the powerful potential to outdistance Google in due course.
The Rise of Qihoo 360 Technology
While Baidu’s competition with Google Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) leaves it on the safe side, emerging rival Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd (NYSE: QIHU) appears not to leave Baidu any room for complacency. A software and web browser company currently gaining a foothold in the Chinese market, Qihoo has exhibited a consistent growth pattern since it surfaced, with a market share of 10% in the most recent quarter. Despite that, analysts perceive that its long-term growth potential remains weak and sluggish. As the company attempted to make an initial blastoff in the industry, clients saw discrepancies in its accounts and quality of user data, causing investors to blow hot and cold. It may have hurt Baidu for quite some time when Qihoo’s momentary high caused its stock price to go down a tad last quarter, but it is quite noteworthy that the slight build-up in Qihoo’s stock price was more of an upshot of Google China’s withdrawal and not in any way brought by Baidu’s miscue. Now, Qihoo places third in China’s search engine market, next to Google with a market share of 15% and Baidu with a little over 70%. The software company may have hindered Baidu last quarter as it enjoyed a period of growth, but low credibility of its accounts only goes to show that the initially perceived threat was fleeting.