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BAIDU.COM Inc outperformed its previous forecasts in the first quarter with a strong performance by its online advertising business.

Net income reached 181.1 million yuan (US$26.5 million), or 5.19 yuan per share, which was up 23.5 percent from the previous year but 37 percent lower than the fourth quarter of 2008, the company announced late Monday.

Total revenue was 810.7 million yuan, up 41.1 percent year on year - compared with the company's previous forecast of between 780 million yuan and 800 million yuan. Online marketing contributed 810.2 million yuan, over 99 percent, to its total revenue, up 41.5 percent from the same period last year.

The search company had more than 185,000 active online advertising customers by the end of the first quarter, which was 14.9 percent more than the previous year.

Baidu launched the enhanced bidding platform "Phoenix Nest" for its online marketing customers on April 20.

The professional edition of the platform offered enhanced tools for managing marketing budgets as well as analyzing data.

"The new platform may have a negative impact on our revenue at first, but this will change after a period of time. This will become Baidu's most important business," said Robin Li, chairman and CEO of Baidu, after the results were announced.

He also said Baidu will focus on its search engine business, instead of providing download links, as the revenues and traffic brought by its MP3 search service has begun to fall.

Baidu predicted its total revenue for the current quarter would range from 1.07 billion yuan to 1.1 billion yuan, which means a 32 percent to 36 percent increase.



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