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Baidu shares spike on strong results and AI update

 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Today’s headlines

What’s happening: Shares of Baidu climbed on Tuesday, after the company reported results for the third quarter.

What happened: China’s internet search leader reported better-than-expected results for the latest quarter.

Although Baidu’s generative AI services gained traction, the company recorded a decline in sales for one of its major segments.

How were the results: The China-based company reported a single-digit increase in sales for the quarter ended September 30.

  • Revenues grew by 6% year-over-year to 34.45 billion yuan, topping the consensus estimates of 34.33 billion yuan.
  • Adjusted profits came in at 20.4 yuan per ADS (American Depositary Share) versus a year-ago profit of 16.87 yuan per share. The figure also exceeded Wall Street expectations of 16.55 yuan per share.

Why it matters: Earlier this year, the US announced sanctions on exports of AI chips to China, which impacted the business of AI-related firms in the country. Alibaba and Tencent Holdings recently said the restrictions imposed by the US would have a meaningful impact on their cloud computing businesses.

However, Baidu’s CEO Robin Li said the curbs on chip exports would have a limited impact on the company’s business in the near term.

Baidu’s AI cloud revenues declined by 2% year-over-year in the third quarter, following weakness in demand for smart transportation projects.

The economic rebound in China has been sporadic, resulting in muted spending on ecommerce sites during the Singles’ Day shopping festival. On the other hand, the International Monetary Fund’s upward revision of China’s 2023 economic growth from 5% to 5.4% resulted in companies spending more on advertising online. Baidu’s online marketing revenues climbed 5% to 19.7 billion yuan during the third quarter.

Baidu said the average monthly active users for its app increased by 5% year-over-year to 663 million in September. In October, Baidu announced the launch of the latest version of its ChatGPT-style AI chatbot, Ernie. The company said Ernie would propel ad revenues in the current quarter.

“Our AI-centric business and product strategy should set the stage for sustained multi-year revenue and profit expansion within our Ernie and Ernie Bot ecosystem,” CEO Robin Li said during the earnings call.

How shares responded: Nasdaq-listed Baidu shares gained 1.9% to close at $113.42 on Tuesday, following the release of quarterly results. The stock has lost around 10% over the past six months.

What to watch: Investors will monitor the recovery of China’s economy. Markets will also continue watching the impact of US sanctions on the export of AI chips to China.

The markets today

The Canadian dollar will be in focus today, ahead of a couple of major economic reports

Context: The CAD/USD forex pair strengthened on Tuesday, following the release of domestic inflation data.

Details: Data released on Tuesday showed inflation in Canada slowing more-than-expected to 3.1% in October, from 3.8% a month ago. The figure was also better than market expectations of 3.2%.

The latest reading was also lower than the Bank of Canada’s projection of inflation remaining close to 3.5% through the middle of next year. The news spurred speculations of the BoC not announcing another rate hike.

New home prices in Canada came in unchanged for October versus a 0.2% decline in September and was in-line with market estimates.

Weakness in the price of crude oil, one of Canada’s major exports, limited gains for the loonie. WTI crude oil prices fell 6 cents to settle at $77.77 per barrel on Tuesday.

The CAD/USD forex pair recorded gains despite some strength in the greenback. The US dollar index, which measures the greenback’s performance versus a basket of major peers, rose more than 0.1% to 103.57 on Tuesday.

The CAD/USD forex pair added more than 0.1% to 1.3703 on Tuesday. The S&P/TSX Composite Index fell 0.67% to close at 20,109.97.

What to watch: Investors await the release of economic reports on manufacturing sales and wholesale sales from Canada today. Canada’s manufacturing sales, which grew by 0.4% to C$72.8 billion in September, is likely to decline by 0.1% in October. Wholesale sales in Canada had risen by 0.4% in September and is projected to come in flat in October.

Other Markets: European indices closed lower on Tuesday, with the FTSE 100, DAX 40, CAC 40 and STOXX Europe 600 Index down by 0.19%, 0.01%, 0.24% and 0.09%, respectively.

The news shaping the markets

Ukraine’s military spokesperson said Russia had pulled back ground assaults and air strikes on the eastern town of Avdiivka. The news sent the safe-haven US dollar index slightly lower this morning.


Singapore’s GDP expanded by 1.1% year-over-year in the third quarter, higher than expectations of 0.7%. This being the strongest pace of growth since the fourth quarter of 2022 lent support to the SGD/USD forex pair.


The American Petroleum Institute said US crude stockpiles rose by 9.047 million barrels in the week ended November 17, much more than the increase of 1.335 million barrels in the prior week, sending the WTI crude oil prices lower this morning.


Australia’s Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Economic Index declined by 0.03% in October, following a 0.7% rise in the previous month. Despite this, the AUD/USD forex pair rose this morning.


US Chicago Fed National Activity Index declined to -0.49 in October. This being the lowest reading in seven months sent the Dow Jones index lower by more than 60 points on Tuesday.

What else to watch today

Turkey’s consumer confidence index, South Africa’s inflation rate, Italy’s construction output, UK’s CBI industrial trends orders and autumn statement, Mexico’s retail sales, US MBA mortgage applications, durable goods orders, initial jobless claims, continuing jobless claims, University of Michigan consumer sentiment, crude oil inventories, gasoline stocks change, distillate stockpiles, natural gas stocks change and Baker Hughes crude oil rigs, Eurozone’s consumer confidence indicator, Russia’s producer prices change, as well as Argentina’s leading economic index and economic activity estimator.


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