Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) hit a new 52-week high on Friday. It even came within a few upticks of its all-time high of $429.19 from nearly two years ago.

Further momentum was denied, however, as Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock this morning. Analyst Alan Hellawell is cutting his rating, from "Buy" to "Hold," after a check of Chinese ad brokers and consultants led him to believe that the company's third-quarter results will clock in at the lower end of its guidance.

This would be a grim prognosis, particularly for a company whose stock has more than quadrupled since bottoming out 11 months ago, if others shared Hellawell's opinion. But Baidu barreled toward its high on Friday after Citigroup and CLSA Asia Pacific Markets analysts chimed in with bullish notes on the company.

Believing that Baidu will "surprise with strong results showing accelerating growth over the next 12 months," Citi's Catherine Leung raised her price target, from $385 to $490.

Hellawell and Leung are at different ends of this analytical tug-of-war, but that's why investors should be grateful to have vocal opinions from both camps. If everyone is bullish, who will buy? If everyone is bearish, who will sell?

The only thing we do know is that Baidu remains the undisputed champ of search in Asia. Despite Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) best efforts, Baidu's market position in China is similar to Google domestically.

What's more, paid search has been superior to brand advertising as an online revenue-generating vehicle. Baidu has been able to grow briskly, even as display-advertising specialists Sohu.com (NASDAQ:SOHU) and SINA (NASDAQ:SINA) have slowed considerably. Its situation isn't all that different from the one closer to home, with Google growing in paid search as display leaders Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) AOL struggle.

Either way, we're heading toward an analyst showdown when Baidu delivers its third-quarter report later this month. Wall Street sees earnings climbing by a modest 19% for the period, and bragging rights await for those who choose Baidu's landing place correctly.

Baidu, Google, and Sohu.com are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. SINA is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been to China once and admires its dot-com revolution from afar. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this article and 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.