Shares of Baidu (BIDU) are up $2.36, or 1.7%, at $138.95 after Brean Murray‘s Fawne Jiang this morning reiterated a Buy rating and raised her target on the stock to $200 from $185, writing that the company will likely beat estimates when it reports Q4 results this Thursday, after the bell.
Consensus for Thursday’s results is for revenue of 4.46 billion in Chinese Renminbi in revenue, but Jiang thinks the company can beat that based higher average revenue per user from its largest advertising customers. Jiang also thinks the company may forecast above the 4.2 billion Renminbidi the Street is modeling for this quarter. The Chinese New Year likely helped, not hurt, the company’s results, Jiang thinks.
Moreover, while some areas of advertising may have struggled, and may yet struggle this year, given slowing in China’s economy, Jiang sees a lift for Baidu from continued growth in consumer buying,
With growth of the Chinese economy likely tempered in 2012, we expect disproportional growth among different verticals within online advertising. We are generally cautious on advertising spending in real estate and auto as a result of the government’s continued tightening, while bullish on the growth outlook in consumer-driven sectors as the Chinese government ha set internet consumption as a key economic growth driver in 2012 and beyond. Baidu, with its top verticals mostly in consumer-driven sectors (medical, education, travel and IT and business services) is set to capture the outsized growth in advertisers’ increasing budget allocation towards consumer sectors. In particular , we view travel as the highlight of 2012 for Baidu, with certain large advertisers having indicated plans to double their ad budget witht he company.