Let me see if I get this straight. Shares of Baidu
"We have such a bigger base," Haoyu Shen -- Baidu's senior vice president of business operations -- explained at the Reuters China Investment Summit, as retold in a Reuters article.
Analysts see earnings growing 135% this year, so Shen is basically saying that investors shouldn't expect a repeat performance of Baidu's 135% bottom-line spurt and its projected 79% revenue surge come 2011.
This isn't a bombshell. Everyone knows that this year's accelerated growth is the result of Baidu gaining market share at Google's
Wall Street isn't delusional. Analysts expect revenue and earnings to grow 61% and 62%, respectively, in the year ahead. That's not too shabby, but it's clearly indicative that no pro was holding out for earnings to grow twice as quickly as that.
If investors could count on Baidu to grow its net income by 135% every year, I can assure that it wouldn't be selling for just 42 times forward earnings as it right now. Under that kind of unrealistically sustainable scenario, even an earnings multiple of 135 would be too low since it would imply that the shares would still more than double every year and keep that forward multiple.
Investors seem to be ignoring Baidu's revelation during the summit, indicating that Baidu is on the lookout for acquisitions.
Who will Baidu buy? With just more than $1 billion in cash and short-term investments, it can certainly cover a lot of ground. Baidu's buoyant shares -- better than a 10-bagger since I originally recommended the dot-com darling to Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers nearly four years ago -- also open up the possibility for a stock-based deal.
In other words, if it wanted to buy $4 billion SINA
Then again, since Google acquired YouTube in its infancy, it would also be poetic if Baidu bought Youku.com
Acquisitions can obviously help pad organic growth, so it's not really a surprise to see Baidu shopping as growth decelerates. The only real surprise was the market's reaction yesterday to news that is so brutally obvious.
Do you think Baidu is a good buy at this point? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Google is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Baidu and Google are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Sina is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has only been to China once, but he relishes admiring its dot-com revolution from afar. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.