Raised bars are pretty cool, don't you think? Back in September, FindWhat.com (NASDAQ:FWHT) was looking to earn $0.48 a share in 2003. A month later, that became a rounder $0.50 target. In December it was raised to $0.51. Five months and five pennies later, the company posted annual earnings of $0.53 a share last night on a 69% surge in revenues.

Readers of Stocks 2004 are familiar with the story. The stock has gone from $14 at the time of the special report's publication to the high teens today. Selling text ads on popular search portals, even if sponsors pay as little as a nickel for each clickthrough, really adds up.

To be sure, the company has beefy competition in Google and Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO). Others like AskJeeves (NASDAQ:ASKJ) and LookSmart (NASDAQ:LOOK) are also in the mix. But now, FindWhat looks poised to become a global force.

Last summer, FindWhat announced that it would acquire Europe's Espotting for $27 million in cash and 8.1 million shares. It hit the brakes a few months later, citing concerns over Espotting's books, but last night revealed that the merger is back on. Waiting paid off, as FindWhat will now pay just $20 million and issue only 7 million shares to swallow its British counterpart.

Before factoring in the acquisition, FindWhat has taken a softer look at 2004. For the year, it is looking to earn just $0.60 a share on $95 million in revenues. The market was expecting at $0.63 a share.

That may sting investors who were spoiled by the gravity-defying antics of the recent past. Then again, the market smacked FindWhat down after it broke off its Espotting marriage proposal in the fall. Now that the transatlantic lovebirds are back, a more powerful FindWhat bears watching.

Rick does not own shares in any company mentioned in this article. His stock holdings can be viewed online, as can the Fool's disclosure policy.

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