Redemption came swiftly for (NASDAQ:BIDU) last night after a monster fourth quarter rewarded believers in China's leading search engine. The stock shot up by 13% in after-hours trading when the company posted a profit of $0.09 a share -- $0.13 a stub before stock-based compensation -- on $14.2 million in revenues. It may not sound like much, but it translates into a 168% top-line improvement and a 286% surge in profitability over the year-ago quarter.

For those valuing Baidu based on analyst projections, the company's showing handily beat market forecasts. Analysts had called for earnings to clock in at $0.07 a share on just $13 million in revenues.

Baidu investors' collective sigh of relief was months in the making. The stock has been declining gradually since the online specialist's wild IPO. It went public at $27 and soared into the triple digits on its first trading day.

Since Baidu is often referred to as the Chinese version of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), it bears noting that Baidu's blowout quarter came during the same three-month period in which Google finally disappointed the market. Then again, we can't really use Google and Baidu in the same sentence without pointing out how Google continues to grow in China. It may one day relegate Baidu to the runner-up position, like Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) in the U.S.

That certainly doesn't mean that Baidu will go down without a fight -- or even that it can't still appreciate substantially as the No. 2 player in the world's most populous nation. China's huge economic potential will most likely increase as the economy rapidly improves. You can already see that in the metrics behind Baidu's advertisers. The company's online marketing revenues grew by 30% sequentially on just a 17% uptick in sponsors, which means that companies are spending more to reach the search engine's visitors.

Despite the geopolitical risks of buying into China, many of our growth newsletters have embraced the concept. Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommended (NASDAQ:NTES) and ShandaInteractive (NASDAQ:SNDA) more than a year ago. Motley Fool Stock Advisor and Motley Fool Hidden Gems have sided with SINA (NASDAQ:SINA) and Ctrip (NASDAQ:CTRP), respectively. International investing is becoming an important aspect of creating a well-rounded portfolio, and if you're going to bank on overseas equities, it's difficult to ignore a country with 1.3 billion citizens, above and beyond the obvious risks.

As for Baidu, the good times may very well continue. The company now expects to produce between $15.5 million and $16.1 million in revenues for the current quarter. That's way ahead of the $13 million Wall Street was expecting. A dot-com upstart winning over a skeptical market with market-crushing quarters? Maybe there's more of Google in the Baidu DNA than we think.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a huge fan of the online search engine space and he does own shares in The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.