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Nasdaq Today: Strong Quarter Lifts Baidu Stock; Expedia Gets a Downgrade

By Dan Caplinger – May 19, 2020 at 12:28PM

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Most Nasdaq stocks fared well on Tuesday morning.

On a mixed day for the broader stock market, the tech stocks that make up a disproportionately large part of the Nasdaq fared better than most. As of just before noon EDT, the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -0.49%) was up more than half a percentage point, outperforming the breakeven performance from the S&P 500. The Nasdaq 100 Index saw similar gains of about 0.6%.

Making news among Nasdaq 100 stocks was Baidu (BIDU), which released earnings results for the first quarter that gave investors greater confidence in the broader Chinese stock market. Expedia Group (EXPE) wasn't so lucky, however, with ongoing strains on the travel industry hitting the online-booking specialist and leading one stock analyst to downgrade its stock.

Baidu does it

Baidu stock gained 6% following the Chinese internet company's first-quarter financial report. The latest numbers from Baidu showed the struggles that the company faces in a tough environment, but the results were better than many investors had feared.

White sign with blue and red Baidu logo.

Image source: Baidu.

Revenue for Baidu fell 7% during the period from year-ago levels, with shelter-in-place orders having a marked impact on sales for the internet company. Yet while core business revenue was down 13% year over year, adjusted pre-tax operating earnings soared 38% on strength in margin figures. Facing inevitable downticks in business volume, Baidu sought to focus on its highest-quality opportunities, and that helped it eke into the black, even on a GAAP basis.

Baidu continued to maintain its loyal customer following. Daily active user counts were up 28% to 222 million, with in-app search queries rising 45%. Time spent on the Baidu feed jumped by more than half, compared to year-ago levels. CEO and co-founder Robin Li praised the company's success in making the key transition toward mobile devices.

Investors have struggled with Baidu's poor stock price performance in recent years and are hopeful this could mark the beginning of a turnaround. If China has truly moved past the coronavirus pandemic, then it could bring a new growth spurt for Baidu.

Dealing with disappointment

Elsewhere, shares of Expedia Group were down 1% after being lower by as much as 3.5% earlier in the session. That followed a big gain on Monday, but some analysts watching the stock aren't sure that Expedia will be able to hold onto its recent advance.

Analysts at Jefferies downgraded Expedia stock from buy to hold and reduced their price target on the online travel stock by $15 per share to $85. Jefferies expressed skepticism about the currently optimistic viewpoint about travel companies, which seems to assume that the industry will be able to return to pre-coronavirus levels within 2 1/2 years. That seems overly hopeful to analysts, who cited a much longer recovery timeline following the 9/11 attacks.

Moreover, Expedia's peers are still facing headwinds. Booking Holdings (BKNG -1.29%) suffered substantial drops in revenue and earnings in the first quarter, and investors expect the same from Expedia when it reports its latest results later this week.

Even as businesses reopen, stocks in the airline and travel industries could well be the last to rebound as travelers get used to the new normal in a post-coronavirus world before setting out for points far from home. Until that happens, Expedia could face challenges returning to its previous growth trajectory.

Dan Caplinger owns shares of Booking Holdings. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Baidu and Booking Holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Baidu Stock Quote
Baidu
BIDU
Expedia Stock Quote
Expedia
EXPE
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
^IXIC
$11,093.60 (-0.49%) $-71.19
Booking Holdings Stock Quote
Booking Holdings
BKNG
$1,704.41 (-1.29%) $-22.30

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