Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (NASDAQ:RMCF) reported earnings for its fiscal third quarter yesterday. Let's see how the company did (and try to keep our craving for chocolate under control while we do so).

Net sales saw an increase of almost 14% over the prior-year period, coming in at $9.1 million. Operating income jumped 20% to $2.1 million. Net profit advanced 19% to $1.3 million, while earnings per diluted share ratcheted up to a rich amount of $0.21 -- good for a better-than-23% increase.

Double-digit increases across the board -- I like that. It's especially nice to see when these numbers are put side by side with the stats encountered during Rocky Mountain's previous earnings report. A small single-digit increase in the top line was followed by declines in the operating and net-profit metrics. At the time, Rocky Mountain cited hot summer weather as being partly to blame for the malaise.

Rocky Mountain had been opening stores ahead of the past holiday season to take advantage of all the tinsel excitement. According to the release, 25 new locations were opened in the first nine months of the fiscal year. Seven stores were opened in December, and at least a half-dozen are planned to make their debut sometime in the next couple months. Although the quantity of new locations fell below initial plans, Rocky Mountain should still reap benefits from the expansion of its selling network.

Since I last examined the company, the yield on the shares hasn't changed -- it's still hovering around 2.4%. But it should be noted that the quarterly dividend has risen -- in fact, longtime Fool Rick Munarriz mentioned in his article on dividend hikes that Rocky Mountain has raised its quarterly payment three times in the last few years. So, even with the slight rise in share price since my last report, the yield has held. Guidance for earnings growth remains the same -- Rocky Mountain expects to grow its bottom-line profit somewhere in a range falling between 17% and 22%. Although there is no cash-flow statement attached to the current release, a check of the last 10-Q shows that, for the six-month period, net cash from operations jumped to $1.7 million versus $0.3 million in the comparable period. Rocky Mountain is managing its cash flow well, and it continues to fund capital improvements, as well as dividend obligations with no problem.

Rocky Mountain, like Hershey (NYSE:HSY), Tootsie Roll (NYSE:TR), and Motley Fool Income Investor selection Wrigley (NYSE:WWY), is an investment idea for individuals looking to expose their portfolios to the consumer-goods sector. Many investors are probably thinking of this area right now since the specter of an economic slowdown is currently being debated -- these kinds of dividend-paying stocks can theoretically buttress a portfolio during hard times. Out of the stocks mentioned here, Hershey is probably my favorite because of its brand equity, but I still think Rocky Mountain may offer upside potential. The yield hasn't dropped, the dividend has been hiked, earnings are up, cash flow continues to remain healthy, and double-digit growth guidance is still in the offing. I don't know whether Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is being helped along by the Oompa-Loompas or not, but I do know that its latest quarter has shown a lot of improvement, and I believe that its prospects are heading in an upward direction.

More Takes on Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory:

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 2,518 out of 19,225 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.