Baidu chief forecasts continued recovery

Baidu co-founder and CEO Robin Li used an earnings call to express confidence advertising revenue across different verticals including travel, franchising and local services will rebound as Covid-19 (coronavirus) lockdowns in major cities are lifted.

On Baidu’s Q3 earnings call, Li acknowledged revenue is “very sensitive” to Covid-19 (coronavirus) control measures and while in the short-term the situation is “quite volatile, the economy should improve in the mid-term and beyond”.

The Baidu executive expects its mobile ecosystem to continue generating strong cash flow and fund its investment in AI cloud and intelligent driving.

Its net loss narrowed to CNY146 million ($20.4 million) from CNY16.6 billion in Q3 2021. Total revenue rose 2 per cent to CNY32.5 billion.

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Online advertising revenue declined 4 per cent to CNY18.7 billion, compared with a 10 per cent annual drop in Q2 as the macro environment improved gradually since June, Li explained.

“Encouragingly, revenues from healthcare and retail recorded positive year-over-year growth.”

Supported by 24 per cent growth in its AI cloud business to CNY4.5 billion, non-advertising sales increased 25 per cent to CNY6.5 million, accounting for 26 per cent of total core revenue, up from 21 per cent in Q3 2021.

Monthly active users (MAUs) of the Baidu app increased 5 per cent to 634 million.

Revenue at its video streaming platform iQIYI declined 2 per cent to CNY7.5 billion, with average daily subscribing members falling 3.5 per cent to 101 million.