Why Qihuu 360 (QIHU) Is Gaining Today

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Qihoo 360 (QIHU) gained 4.6% to $84.80 Monday following an upgrade from analyst firm Stifel.

Stifel analyst George Askew upgraded the Chinese search company to "buy" from "hold," with a price target of $108. Qihoo currently handles 23% of Internet searches in China, but has less than 2% of search revenue. Askew believes Qihoo's search revenue will increase as it increases prices and sells ads to more marketers. He also notes the company will likely attract more top ad spenders and increase its share of Internet searches in the future.

UBS also has a positive outlook for Qihoo, giving the company a "buy" rating and a price target of $118.

Qihoo's biggest competitor, Chinese search company Baidu (BIDU), fell 2.8% to $174.64 Monday.

TheStreet Ratings team rates QIHOO 360 TECHNOLGY CO -ADR as a Hold with a ratings score of C. The team has this to say about its recommendation:

"We rate QIHOO 360 TECHNOLGY CO -ADR (QIHU) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the company's profit margins have been poor overall."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • QIHU's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 9.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 123.6%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • QIHOO 360 TECHNOLGY CO -ADR reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, QIHOO 360 TECHNOLGY CO -ADR increased its bottom line by earning $0.40 versus $0.12 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.44 versus $0.40).
  • QIHU's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.94 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared to the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio shows mixed results, the company's quick ratio of 5.97 is very high and demonstrates very strong liquidity.
  • The gross profit margin for QIHOO 360 TECHNOLGY CO -ADR is currently very high, coming in at 92.25%. Regardless of QIHU's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, QIHU's net profit margin of 23.65% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 209.09% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 149.90% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Looking ahead, however, we cannot assume that the stock's past performance is going to drive future results. Quite to the contrary, its sharp appreciation over the last year is one of the factors that should prompt investors to seek better opportunities elsewhere.

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