China's leading search engine didn't get everything right this year. The stock is trading slightly lower than where it was when the year began. Let's go over some of the headlines that didn't go Baidu's way this year.
Baidu announced fourth-quarter results that fell short of expectations in February. Revenue climbed 48% to $2.264 billion with net income moving 16% higher to hit $520.4 million or $1.45 a share. Wall Street has come to accept that margins will contract as Baidu invests in new online-to-offline -- or O2O -- initiatives, but even in that scenario analysts were holding out for a profit of $1.60 a share. Shares of Baidu would go on to tumble 4.5% the following day.
Shares of Baidu went on to take another hit after its next quarterly report, slipping 8.5% the day after posting mixed financial results for the first quarter. It was only the third time that it posted a year-over-year decline in earnings since going public a decade ago, according to S&P Capital IQ data.
It also didn't help that Baidu's top-line guidance for the second quarter was also short of where the pros were perched.
Even Baidu can't escape corruption. Reuters reported that it fired eight executives accused of criminal behavior. Details of the actual misdeeds weren't made public, but Baidu did confirm that the move included senior executives in the sales and marketing department. Some were also detained by authorities, so it was probably a pretty big deal.
Baidu stock took big hits following the first two quarterly reports it announced in the 2015 calendar year, and things got even uglier after it posted disappointing financial results in late July. The stock tumbled 15% the day after posting another quarter of contracting margins and uninspiring guidance.
A lot of analysts spent the summer and fall slashing Baidu's price targets as its O2O goals are eating away at near-term profitability, but its most severe cut came at the end of the third quarter when Summit Research analyst Henry Guo cut his share price goal from $205 to $150.
Baidu's stock has gone on to bounce back in a major way since bottoming out in the summer, but it still has a long way to go before revisiting its all-time highs set late last year.
Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Baidu. 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. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.