Turnarounds are hard, and not many managers or investors are up to the challenge. But when they work out, the rewards can be considerable. Here's hoping, then, that ADCTelecommunications (NASDAQ:ADCT) -- the communications infrastructure company whose stock's incredible rise in the '90s paid for more than a couple of summer cabins for residents of the Twin Cities -- gets back on solid footing.

Third-quarter results appear to me to be a mixed bag. The company appears to be succeeding in its effort to slim down and morph from a broad-line equipment supplier to a much more focused provider of infrastructure connectivity equipment and technology. But management's earnings guidance suggested that the market still isn't what it used to be -- a revelation that shaved off about 10% of the stock's value.

For the quarter, revenue was up about 40% annually and 1% sequentially. ADC's OmniReach FTTX (fiber to the "x") business posted growth in excess of 400%, while the Digivance business (which sells products to expand network capacity) clocked in with 176% growth. Offsetting this somewhat, wireline access system sales fell by 14% for the period.

Because the company reported minuscule operating profit last year, the annual comparisons aren't especially informative. That said, ADC's operating margin of 10.5% was a sequential improvement and doesn't compare too shabbily to others in the still-recovering communications equipment industry like Lucent (NYSE:LU) or Tellabs (NASDAQ:TLAB).

Likewise, the free cash flow picture is mixed. The company is once again positive on an operating cash flow basis, but not quite so on a free cash flow basis -- unless, that is, you include the benefit of disposals of property and equipment (something that most people exclude from their free cash flow calculations).

Were I already an owner of these shares, I wouldn't get too bent out of shape about guidance. Turn-arounds are tricky work, and I wouldn't say that ADC's markets are really back on a solid growth trend just yet, despite projects from large telcos like Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and SBC (NYSE:SBC). Not many companies execute reverse stock splits and survive, but I think ADC has a better chance than most. Only aggressive investors should seriously consider this stock, but I certainly believe patience could pay off here.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).