Baidu rolled out strong second-quarter numbers. Photo: Reuters / Aly Song
Baidu rolled out strong second-quarter numbers. Photo: Reuters / Aly Song

Baidu’s move into artificial intelligence appears to be reaping dividends. The Chinese online search giant, which is part of the BAT grouping of Alibaba and Tencent, reported on Wednesday that net profit for the second quarter jumped 45%.

Net income came in at 6.4 billion yuan (US$967 million) for the April to June period, fueled by growth in personalized news apps and AI projects.

The Beijing-based behemoth has gone back to basics with a new high-tech twist with its search and news delivery services. At first glance, it appears to be paying off.

“We had another strong quarter in Q2 with search exhibiting robust revenue growth driven by AI-powered monetization capabilities,” said Robin Li, the chairman and chief executive of the company, adding that the group continues to have “strong traffic and monetization momentum.”   

Li and his team have been refocusing on what Baidu does best, which is highlighted by the numbers. During the second quarter, the “Baidu Core,” which excludes Netflix-like iQiyi, generated $3 billion in revenue, a rise of 28% compared with the same period last year.

Last month, the company’s development conference showcased upgrades of “Baidu Brain.” This is crucial for its AI services and DuerOS, a conversational AI system, which will extend its move into advanced technology.

“These strong results are a testament of our ability to focus and execute on our strategy to solidify Baidu’s mobile foundation and lead in AI,” Li said.

Baidu has been trying to reposition itself from its all-consuming search-engine business toward cutting-edge projects, which is in line with President Xi Jinping’s “Made in China 2025” policy.

“The mobile Baidu App shows healthy user and activation trends,” Natalie Wu, an analyst at China International Capital Corporation, one of the country’s leading investment banking firms, told Bloomberg News. “We see still high monetization potential for Baidu feeds in the coming six to 12 months.”

With the reporting season in full swing, Baidu’s results will act as a barometer for the “Big Two” of Chinese tech. Alibaba is expected to report earnings on August 23 and Tencent plans to announce its second-quarter results on August 15.

So far, the BATs are off to a flying start.