2012: The Year Baidu Investors Got Bit

In these waning days of 2012, there's a chill in the air and snow in the forecast. What better time of year to curl up by the fire and ponder: What went wrong with the stocks you picked back in January? What went right? And should you keep these stocks in your portfolio, or go out and find something new?

That's what we aim to do today, as we flip back the calendar, and consider the year that was at Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU  ) .

A few Foolish facts about Baidu

Year-to-Date Stock Return

(17.4%)

P/E

28.2

Dividend Yield

None

1-Year Revenue Growth (YTD)

61.7%

1-Year Profit Growth (YTD)

69.6%

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

***

Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

What happened at Baidu this year?
After a topsy-turvy 2011, the company commonly known as "China's Google" (but more accurately known as the company that displaced Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) from China) came roaring into 2012. From the beginning of January to early April, Baidu shares ran up an impressive 30% -- a pace that, if continued, would have had the stock doubling by year end. But it was not to be.

The company's first quarter earnings report, which came out April 24, showed Baidu's revenue rising 75%, and earnings up 76%. Somehow, however, analysts had got it into their heads that Baidu was going to do even better than that. When Baidu failed to measure up, a lot of investors got to thinking that it might be time to take profits rather than letting their money ride.

Result: Baidu shares proceeded to lose 30% over the next three months.

When Q2's earnings rolled around in July, the company that grew earnings around 70% in Q1 just kept on growing, leading to an immediate pop. But as we've come to expect, it was short-lived. In August, worrywarts found their latest excuse to question the Baidu's success: browser and anti-virus software maker Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU  ) , which announced plans to compete with Baidu on search.

Ever since then, Baidu's share price has been on the wane, recently testing a 52-week low. Investors continue to worry that Baidu will somehow fumble "the transition to mobile" -- a transition that Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) and Google seemed to manage just fine, but one that for some reason everyone seems to think Baidu will flub.

Well, maybe it might. Maybe Qihoo and its less than $300 million in annual revenue will beat Baidu and its $3.3 billion revenue stream... but I wouldn't bet on it. With 2012 drawing to a close, my money's still on Goliath to beat David in 2013.

Regardless of your short-term view on the Chinese economy, there may be opportunity in Baidu. Our brand-new premium report breaks down the dominant Chinese search provider's strengths and weaknesses. Just click here to access it now.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 20, 2012, at 10:01 AM, plange01 wrote:

    2012 is is ending and china is back and the move and bidu looks like one of the best buys around...

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