Why Qihoo Missed Q4 Earnings and Fell 3%

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Qihoo 360  (NYSE: QIHU  ) shares fell as low as 3% to $33.74 after missing quarterly estimates. While analysts hoped for $0.17 per share from this quarter, Qihoo delivered only $0.10. The company, however, beat 2012 fiscal year by $0.04. 

In the fourth quarter, Qihoo's revenue's jumped 65% year over year to the tune of $103 million. Overall, the company netted $12.8 million, 14.7% less than last year's $15 million. Altogether, that means shareholders earned a $0.10 instead of $0.13 for the same quarter last year.

In all of 2012, Qihoo almost doubled revenues to $329 million, a total increase of 96% from $167.9 million over FY2011. Even better, the  company tripled net income to $46.8 million. For the year, Qihoo delivered $0.80 per share, while analysts only expected $0.76 per share.

However, the good news for Qihoo seemed to be in its operating metrics. CEO Zhou Hongyi noted that monthly active users for Qihoo's PC-based products and services increased to 456 million by the end of 2012. Moreover, the company's mobile security product, 360 Mobile Safe, reached 207 million.

Specifically, the company's 360 Browser reached a record 310 million, compared to 256 million in Q4 2011. Qihoo's 360 Personal Start-up Page hit 91 million daily unique visitors in the fourth quarter. 

Barely noted in the earnings report was Qihoo's new search efforts. Launched in the summer 2012, Qihoo mainly referred to the venture (and mobile investments) as a reason for shrinking margins. 

In closing, Mr. Xiangdong Qi, president of Qihoo 360, added:

We are thrilled to have surpassed our revenue guidance and internal profitability targets for both the fourth quarter and the full year. With 80% year-over-year growth, our online advertising business continued to gain market share in 2012, supported by a strong increase in our user activities, as well as our successful initiatives to deepen our monetization process.

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Kevin Chen

Kevin Chen covers the tech sector in China. With degrees in history and economics, he scours government sources, magazines, blogs, and earnings reports before making any investment decision. You can follow him at @TMFKang or on Google+.

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