It may have been a quarter when hurricanes put some retailers at a disadvantage, but Pacific Sunwear of California (NASDAQ:PSUN) turned in decent quarterly earnings despite some difficult comparisons. However, there are signs that investors who are considering buying into Pacific Sunwear at this juncture may want to wait to catch the next wave.

Third-quarter earnings at Pacific Sunwear increased 30% to $31.9 million, or $0.43 per share. Total sales increased 17% to $329.1 million, with same-store sales up 6.6%. The company held firm to its fourth-quarter earnings guidance of $0.52 per share and upped its yearly guidance by a penny, to $1.36 per share.

Let's also take a peek at free cash flow, which is very important to Foolish investors as it is defined as the cash a company has left over after it has met its obligations. For the first nine months of this year, Pacific Sunwear generated $5.4 million in free cash flow, an 82% decrease from the same time frame last year, so that bears watching going forward. Cash and short-term investments shrank 10% to $84.5 million from reserves last year at this time.

Meanwhile, Pacific Sunwear does have some competitors in the surf and skate arena, such as Vans. It also theoretically competes for teens' dollars with other retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) and American Eagle Outfitters (NASDAQ:AEOS), although Pacific Sunwear's focus on the surf, skate, and hip-hop subcultures insulates it from the competitive threats posed by some of the more generalized youth-oriented retailers.

In many ways, Pacific Sunwear delivered a perfectly respectable quarter. However, compared with those reported in May and in August, growth seems to have slowed a bit. And for the time being, investors who are mulling Pacific Sunwear as a possible investment may want to hold tight and watch the numbers.

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