(Yicai Global) Aug. 1-- Baidu Inc. saw its profit slide the most since listing almost 11 years ago, dropping 34.1 percent in the second quarter, as revenue growth hit an eight-year low at the operator of China's biggest Internet search engine.
Profit was CNY2.41 billion (USD364 million) in the three months through June on a 10.2 percent gain in revenue to CNY18.26 billion, Beijing-based Baidu [NASDAQ:BIDU] said in a statement on July 28.
"Baidu faced a challenging second quarter," Chairman and CEO Robin Li said in a conference call after the release of the earnings figures.It could take two to three quarters for growth to pick up again, he said.
The record drop in profit reflected a steep slowdown in revenue growth after a scandal broke in April involving a 21-year-old computer science student who died after receiving an experimental cancer treatment from a medical center that had been listed among the top search results on Baidu.com. In May, the government ordered Baidu to sort out its medical-related paid search business and limit the number of ads per page.
Despite a lackluster performance, Baidu's second-quarter results may not be the worst in its history. The company forecasts revenue of between CNY18.04 billion and CNY18.58 billion for the third quarter, representing a drop of 1.9 percent to an increase of 1.1 percent, from a year earlier.
In other news, Baidu said it is seeking breakthroughs in the field of artificial intelligence. The firm is pushing ahead with commercialization of unmanned vehicles, with the goal of achieving commercial application within three years and mass production within five years. Baidu is also looking to expand the pilot area for driverless cars and has created the country's first exclusive area for self-driving vehicles in the eastern province of Anhui.
"Our unmanned vehicles can avoid and overtake cars and can accurately distinguish cars, pedestrians, traffic lights and other elements," Mr. Li said. "The unmanned vehicle team is also building a simulation system and ramping up efforts to crack the 3,700 application scenarios."