It's been a while since we've discussed Coinstar (NASDAQ:CSTR), a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick from guest analyst Bill Mann, and earnings season seems as good a time as ever to see what a company's been up to. While this quarter's earnings numbers don't quite sound like the torrid growth you'll hear of from some companies, sometimes that's the nature of Hidden Gems stocks -- they're poised to ride an upward trajectory.

Coinstar's earnings came in 9% higher at $4.6 million, or $0.21 per diluted share, beating analysts' estimates by a penny. Revenues rose 11% to $47.8 million. Comparable sales increased 13.7% (an important number to watch in Coinstar's case; as Bill Mann has pointed out in the past, it signals acceptance of the machines). The earnings did not include the effects of the company's recent acquisition of American Coin, or ACMI.

For anyone who thought Coinstar might be a coin-counting one-trick pony -- and Fool contributor Mark Mahorney had his doubts last quarter -- think again. Coinstar seems as though it has only just begun figuring out how to turn chump change into cold, hard cash. While I reacted a bit sardonically to its acquisition of ACMI (I'm just mean enough to mock skill cranes, kiddie rides, and plush toys), the bright side is ACMI's established relationships with Coinstar-coveted retail royalty such as Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT).

Meanwhile, Coinstar's latest brilliant turn is a service to load cash onto Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) cards (waiving the usual 8.9% cut), which is one heck of a way to get exposure to the masses. Coinstar is also peddling its service to banks. More fascinating product ideas include e-payment services for Mastercard and cellular airtime through big-time partner Albertson's (NYSE:ABS).

According to Coinstar's conference call (transcript courtesy of Thompson StreetEvents), it has started rolling out into two drug store chains owned by Albertson's. The exciting idea here is the possibility of greater exposure in the coveted, populated, and likely super-lucrative urban market, where supermarkets and discounters generally can't set up shop.

It seems the company has more than made up for what was once seen as a serious setback: the loss of Safeway (NYSE:SWY) as a customer. However, it doesn't seem so bad now that you figure in additional powerful partners, even outside the supermarket realm.

Coinstar shares dropped in today's trading; investors may have balked over an as-yet-unspecified third-quarter charge related to the ACMI acquisition, which will also result in lower third-quarter earnings, though the company refused to give specific guidance here as it judges the two businesses. For those looking at Coinstar for the long term, though, the company seems to be lining itself up for more than just chump change.

Read more about Coinstar and other developing investment opportunities with a subscription to Hidden Gems . And don't forget to check out our Coinstar discussion board, where people are kicking around the potential in other people's spare change.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.