Baidu is projecting weaker revenues for the first quarter of 2020 due to concerns over the Covid-19 epidemic, despite the internet giant posting 6% revenue growth in the fourth quarter last year.
The Beijing-based company said Thursday in its latest earnings report that it expects current-quarter revenues to be between 21 billion yuan ($3 billion) and 22.9 billion yuan ($3.3 billion), representing a year-on-year decline of 5% to 13%.
“The coronavirus situation in China is evolving, and business visibility is very limited,” Baidu said. “The forecast reflects Baidu’s current and preliminary view, which is subject to substantial uncertainty,” it added.
The novel coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in the city of Wuhan late last year, has caused many factories and businesses to suspend operations, casting a shadow over the world’s already-slowing second-largest economy.
Last month, Baidu delayed the release of its fourth-quarter results by more than two weeks and told employees to work from home to prevent the spread of the disease, which has so far killed nearly 2,800 people in China.
For the three months through December, Baidu’s total revenues were 28.9 billion, up from 27.2 billion yuan in the same quarter of 2018. Net income attributable to Baidu totaled 6.3 billion yuan compared with 2.1 billion yuan in 2018’s last quarter.
Sales from iQiyi, Baidu’s video streaming division, reached 7.5 billion yuan ($1.08 billion), up 7% year-on-year. iQiyi had 106.9 million subscribers as of Dec. 31.
Analysts predict that iQiyi’s subscriber base could expand in the first quarter as people staying indoors amid the outbreak turn to the video streaming platform to kill time.
Contact reporter Ding Yi (email@example.com)