By Justina Lee
Chinese search-engine giant Baidu Inc.’s shares rose in early Asian trade on Friday after its first-quarter results beat expectations and as several analysts raised their stock-price targets.
Baidu’s Hong Kong-listed shares /zigman2/quotes/201047207/delayed HK:9888 -1.00% rose as much as 16% to 134.30 Hong Kong dollars, trimming its year-to-date loss to about 7%.
Baidu said after Thursday’s market close in Hong Kong that its first-quarter revenue rose 1% to 28.41 billion yuan (US$4.22 billion), supported by strong demand for its cloud and artificial-intelligence products. It posted a net loss of CNY885 million, compared with net profit of CNY25.65 billion a year earlier.
Citi analysts said Baidu’s revenue beat street estimates of CNY27.9 billion and described the results as “solid and better than feared” given weakening sentiment for advertising purchases and pandemic-related mobility restrictions in China toward the end of the quarter. They kept their buy rating and raised their target price on Baidu’s U.S.-listed American depositary receipts to US$223 from US$221; the ADRs last traded at US$136.19.
In a note, the Citi analysts said the company “remains well-positioned to ride on digitalization of industrial internet, city urbanization initiatives and carbon neutral target” but cautioned that “visibility into [the second half] remains low.”
Daiwa Capital analysts kept a buy rating and raised their target price on Baidu’s Hong Kong-listed shares to HK$210 from HK$203. Analysts John Choi and Candis Chan in a research note highlighted its stringent cost controls and management’s focus on maintaining stable margins for the marketing business, which Daiwa expects to be hurt by pandemic restrictions in the second quarter.
Nomura analysts likewise highlighted the better-than-expected results. They maintained their neutral rating and US$139 target price on Baidu’s ADRs /zigman2/quotes/209050136/composite BIDU +1.86% .
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