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Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU ) is getting roughed up today on another worrisome report out of China.
Shanghai's First Financial Daily -- as retold by Want China Times -- is reporting that CEO Robin Li is experiencing a "state of crisis" as decelerating growth and competitive pressures are taking their toll on the country's leading search engine.
A lot of this is old news.
It was late last month when investors digested the company's disappointing quarterly report. Revenue grew by a softer-than-expected 50% during the third quarter, and its top-line guidance for the current period -- while 38% to 42% ahead of last year's fourth quarter -- actually represents a sequential decline.
We know that. We have also known for months that China's economy is slowing down and that Qihoo 360 (UNKNOWN: QIHU.DL ) is nibbling at its market share.
In other words, we've known about Baidu's predicament for weeks. This is why a company that is only growing at a roughly 40% year-over-year clip this new quarter -- and where analysts are targeting a mere 36% revenue growth spurt in 2013 -- is trading for less than 17 times next year's earnings.
Is it just me, or is there wiggle room within the deceleration, given the historically low valuation?
The report goes on to detail Baidu's plans to invest in mobile and other new business, recommending that the company should also address the speed of its searches and the quality of its Internet security. The last point has merit -- especially since what Qihoo 360 lacks in search it makes up for in terms of experience with mobile security -- but is this really the kind of news that hasn't already been baked into the share price?
The report is also critical of how its mobile browser for Android devices has failed to gain traction. So? Baidu has also been in Japan for years, and it hasn't made much of a dent in that market. Baidu doesn't have to be hitting on all cylinders. Based on where the stock is now, dipping below $100 today for only the second time since January of last year, it's a bargain despite the warts.
What some consider a crisis, shrewd investors may want to approach as an opportunity.
Betting on China
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