Shares of Baidu, China's equivalent of Google, fell as much as 5 percent early Friday after the company reported stronger-than-expected earnings.
Baidu shares closed at $136.90, down $4.93, or about 3.5 percent, lowering its market value to $47.8 billion. Before the earnings announcement Thursday, the shares had already gained 21 percent in 2012 and rose another 2.5 percent.
In general, shares of technology-related companies often fall back slightly after an earnings announcement.
By comparison, shares of Google fell $1.88, to $604.64.
Baidu, based in Beijing, reported fourth-quarter earnings rose more than expected due to heavier Internet usage and sales. Net income rose 77 percent, to $326.3 million, or 93 cents a share, two cents ahead of estimates. Revenue surged 83 percent, to $710.9 milion, about $12 million above the estimates.
Strong execution allowed us to benefit from exceptional market opportunities, said CEO Robin Li. Helping to boost sales, Baidu introduced a new landing page, a personalized homepage and the Baidu Yi mobile platform.
Baidu also said it expects 2012 revenue to rise as much as 78 percent.
Baidu's 2005 initial public offering, exactly a year after Google's, raised $109 million and was one of the most successful Chinese IPOs ever.
The company's market value is $49.5 billion. By contrast, Google's value is $166.6 billion.
Analysts Cynthia Meng of Jefferies said she was bullish on Baidu because traffic rose in the fourth quarter. Search ads rose more than 50 percent and query traffic rose 17 percent. That should leave Baidu with about 82 percent market share in China. She kept her buy recommendation on the shares, with a $200 price target.
Google had 65 percent share of the U.S. search market in the third quarter of 2011, ComScore estimated. Yahoo held 15.5 percent followed by Microsoft's Bing with 14.7 percent.
Challenges remain. Catherine Leung, of Goldman Sachs, noted Baidu could face a new threat in mobile search from Google, owner of the Android OS. Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility is expected to close this week following regulatory approvals. That's expected to bolster Google's share in the mobile market.
Google's better presence in search through Android could make it a more formidable challenger in China, where smartphones are also wildly popular, Leung wrote this week.
Brean Murran Caret's Fawne Jiang, who raised a price target on Baidu to $200 from $185, said the search engine will enjoy robust growth due to strong consumer buying over the next 12 months.
Baidu shares have gained 18 percent this year, despite the Friday decline. Over the past 52 weeks, though, the gain is only 6.5 percent.