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Baidu reports less profit in Q4

CHINA'S largest search engine Baidu reported declining profit and revenue in the fourth quarter of last years due to falling advertising income after it was ordered by government authorities to tighten scrutiny over healthcare ads.

Baidu's revenue fell 2.6 percent to 18.21 billion yuan (US$2.65 billion) while profit dropped 83 percent to 4.13 billion yuan , according to a stock exchange filing today.

In the fourth quarter, the number of Baidu's advertisers was down 16 percent while online marketing revenue fell 6.7 percent.

"We believe that the impact of slashing healthcare ads is mostly behind us and we look forward to 2017 as a time of recovery and growth," Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Li said in a statement.

"We will maintain investment in key AI-enabled initiatives such as financial services, cloud and autonomous driving," she added.

Baidu Chairman Robin Li told an earnings conference call today the company will focus on artificial intelligence this year, scaling back last year’s push on food delivery and other online-to-offline services.

Baidu last month hired former Microsoft executive Lu Qi as chief operating officer Qi Lu as vice chairman to beef up management capabilities.

The number of Baidu Wallet's activated accounts reached 100 million at the end of December 2016, jumping 88 percent year-over-year as it joins other Internet companies to push forward financial and payment services.


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