Qihoo 360 Aims Higher Than Baidu

It's time for Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU  ) to earn its recent gains.

Shares of the new Chinese dot-com darling have more than tripled over the past year, tapping a fresh all-time high earlier this week.

The market's rallying behind Qihoo as it challenges Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU  ) in search, but for now it's carving a cozy living cashing in on its industry-leading Web browser and security software products in China.

The stock will likely be moving one way or the other come Monday after reporting quarterly results a couple of hours before the market opens.

Analysts see big things for Qihoo, with revenue soaring 98% to $144.2 million. They don't see earnings growing as quickly, but the modeled profit of $0.26 a share is well ahead of the $0.17 a share it posted a year ago.

There have been more than a few implosions among Chinese Internet stocks this summer, but Baidu and Weibo parent SINA (NASDAQ: SINA  ) -- two companies that rely primarily on online advertising the way that Qihoo does -- moved higher after posting better-than-expected financial results.

Baidu and SINA also provided inspiring near-term outlooks, and that's what is ultimately driving these companies.

We know that Qihoo is growing. China's online base is expanding, and Qihoo isn't showing any signs of slowing. We still don't know how it will fare as it moves to monetize its search engine, but third-party trackers now claim that Qihoo's up to a nearly 15% share of the market.

That may not seem like much of a threat to Baidu as it serves up the majority of queries in the world's most populous nation, but if Baidu's customers are paying up -- and they are -- it follows that Qihoo could make some serious money here.

There was also chatter last month about Qihoo acquiring Sohu.com's (NASDAQ: SOHU  ) Sogou in a deal that would give Qihoo nearly 25% of China's search market. Sohu tumbled last week on reports that negotiations fell apart, but we'll see if Qihoo has something to say about that come Monday.

For now, Qihoo is growing at a clip that would make most companies envious. It's also investing in that growth, explaining why analysts see earnings per share climbing just 30% this year with revenue pegged to move 80% higher.

There are a lot more moving parts to the Qihoo story now than there were a year ago when the shares were in the low $20s, but that only gives the Internet speedster more ways to impress or depress the market.

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