UPDATE 1-Baidu fourth-quarter profit grew 36 percent

Mon Feb 4, 2013 4:54pm EST

Feb 4 (Reuters) - Baidu Inc, China's largest search engine company, posted a 36 percent rise in profit in the fourth quarter, its slowest growth since 2009 as competition in the sector heats up and more users switch to mobile search.

Shares of Baidu were down 85 cents at $106.35 in after hours trading on Monday.

Baidu had previously warned of a soft fourth quarter as China's economy slows.

Industry analysts warn that rapidly changing user habits and an increasingly crowded search market could weigh on revenue in the near future.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 41.6 percent year-on-year to $1.017 billion, above Wall Street targets and its own forecast of $979.3 million to $1.010 billion.

Baidu posted net income of $448.7 million, or $1.28 per American Depository Share, in the three months ended Dec. 30. Excluding certain items, Baidu said it had earnings of $1.31 per ADS.

For the first quarter, Baidu said it expects revenue of between $945.4 million to $975.9 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S were looking for revenue of $964 million on average in the first quarter.

Baidu shares have fallen about 7 percent since the end of September.

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