Baidu.com Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU) may finally be catching another break after so much trouble. The Chinese internet search leader has been raised to the Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs this morning with a 6-month price target of $145.00. Its prior rating was a "neutral" rating, but the data may be more interesting than the call itself.
Goldman Sachs believes that search spending will grow 30% in China forseveral years and that Baidu will maintain its share. Thatwill generate roughly 30% in sales and earnings growth. Italso believes that customer loyalty will stay with Baidu. The researchreport noted that the firm believes that the government will continue itssupport and that fears of government punishment will diminish. TheChinese government won’t want Baidu to lose share to foreign competitorson the domestic search market.
Goldman also noted that paid search has a very low penetration in Chinaand will be a secular trend among consumer-oriented companies.
If Goldman Sachs is right on its assumptions that the recent woes willblow over and if we get any sustained market stability, then itstargets may actually prove to be conservative. Of course, it will alsolook like the firm is a tool if more problems arise in the legitimacyof its search.
This report loosening up some of the government and image concerns has shares soaring in pre-market trading. Baidu.com is up over 10% at $130.00 in pre-market trading.
Jon C. Ogg
December 16, 2008