There is no need to carbon date Fossil's (NASDAQ:FOSL) first-quarter earnings because the company is a real forward thinker.

Excelling in the fashion industry can be difficult, but Fossil has made operating in the competitive watch market look easy. The company reported an almost 30% increase in first-quarter diluted earnings per share to $0.22, which beat the consensus analysts' estimate of $0.20. This windfall also nudged the company to raise guidance for the full year to about $1.20, from the previously expected $1.14.

Fossil also avoided the tar pit by reporting no long-term debt at the quarter's end, and it also added another $45.5 million in cash during the period. Net sales for the quarter advanced almost 18%, which compares very favorably with competitors such as Guess (NYSE:GES), which has recently struggled to reach double-digit sales growth.

Fossil has done a wonderful job avoiding extinction by deftly placing its products in key locations such as Federated Department Stores (NYSE:FD) and Target (NYSE:TGT), and Internet sites like Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) and Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO). I have also seen the watches on eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), as I continue to bid on things that eventually gather more dust than a mummy's tomb.

With dressing down still popular in the business world, Fossil has taken advantage of its stylish yet casual branding strategy. Companies like Swatch have taken a lead in more casual wrist-timers, while Fossil has jumped in and filled a niche for dressy yet casual watches.

Fossil's shares have almost doubled over the past year, rewarding patient shareholders and easily beating the S&P 500. With such bright prospects, the company must guard against overextending its product line and offering watches that become as dated as dinosaurs.

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Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent more than 12 years on Wall Street and now concentrates his writing on more fictional characters. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above.