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Baidu Quarterly Net Profit Soars 400%

Chinese Web search leader Baidu Wednesday said fourth-quarter net profits quintupled, but it cautioned that revenue growth was likely to decelerate sharply in the first quarter of 2007.

Fourth-quarter net income for the Beijing-based company rose to 122.8 million yuan (US$15.7 million), or 3.54 yuan (45 cents) per diluted share, compared with the year-earlier quarter's 24.5 million yuan, or 0.71 yuan per diluted share.

Excluding stock option expenses, the latest quarter profit amounted 3.75 yuan to 48 cents per share.

The Beijing-based company, known to investors as "China's Google," expected first-quarter 2007 revenue of $34 million to $35 million -- growth of 95% to 103%. Analysts were looking for $36.6 million to $39.4 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

The net profit compared with analysts' consensus forecast of $11.1 million in profits, or 32 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates. Excluding stock-based compensation and one-time items, the analysts' consensus was 36 cents a share.

Revenue, mostly from online advertising, rose 136% to 271.3 million yuan or $34.8 million. The company was expected by analysts to produce fourth-quarter revenue in a range from $33 million to $35.2 million, according to Reuters Estimates. The average analyst forecast had been $34.6 million.

Shares of Baidu.com rose 1.5%, to close at $115 on Nasdaq ahead of the report. Following the results, which came after regular session trading finished, the stock fell as much as $7 before recovering to trade around $114 after-hours.

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