Investors hoping to hear Baidu (BIDU -2.34%) discuss its fourth-quarter results this week are out of luck. The leading Chinese search engine announced this morning that it will announce its latest financials on February 26.
It may seem late. Many financial outlets had Baidu reporting fresh numbers earlier this week. A 24/7 Wall St. article argues that the late report may indicate that something's wrong.
That isn't likely the case. Baidu never offered up February 4 as its release date. That's just stateside services estimating reporting dates based on historical patterns. It's the same date that Baidu went with last year, making it a reasonable ballpark estimate. In retrospect, it wasn't a reasonable target at all. We're smack dab in the heart of the Chinese New Year holiday. Chinese equity markets have been closed since Thursday of last week and will remain closed until next week. Baidu trades as a stateside-listed ADR, but it naturally isn't going to speak up while China is on holiday.
China's holiday is based on the lunar calendar, and that means that the holiday fluctuates between late January and early February. Depending on where it lands in any particular year, Baidu tries to get in ahead of the festive week or to wait until after the holiday's over.
That being said, February 26 will be the latest that Baidu has ever reported its fourth quarter numbers. Baidu reported on February 16 two years ago, and it was February 18 in 2009. The latest report came on February 21 in 2006, Baidu's first fourth quarter as a public company.
Given a year that was loaded with acquisitions and new ventures, can we really blame Baidu for taking its time here?
As it stands, it should be a good report. Baidu offered up guidance in late October, calling for revenue to grow 45.5% to 49.6% for the period. That compares favorably to Google (GOOGL -2.10%) and Yandex (YNDX -6.79%), the other two publicly traded companies that rely on paid search for the lion's share of revenue.
Baidu is expected to grow faster than the 22% rate that Google posted last month. Russia's Yandex is expected to grow quarterly revenue at a healthier 39% spurt when it reports earlier this month, but that also pales in comparison to Baidu's accelerating growth.
Naturally, we'll have to wait and see how much of Baidu's healthy top-line growth works its way down to the bottom line. It's been investing in growth, including high-traffic niches that have inferior margins. However, there are things far worse than waiting for fresh financials -- and worrying about the wait itself.