Keeping vigil isn't supposed to be fun, but this is a little bit extreme even for me. I keep watching and hoping that C-COR (NASDAQ:CCBL) will give me a sign that will make me feel more secure about buying into the company and its stock. Well, we're not there quite yet, but on the other hand, things don't seem to be getting too much worse. So I suppose there's still hope.

No sense in mincing words -- while this quarter wasn't a disaster, it wasn't exactly a banner performance for this smallish vendor of equipment and software to the cable industry. Revenue was up 14%, but gross margins worsened. The operating loss widened, and so did the net loss. While it's true that $0.23 of the $0.33 in loss per share can be explained away as asset impairments, amortization, restructuring, or stock option expense, a 10-cent loss versus a four-cent loss last year is not cause for jubilation in my book.

On a somewhat more promising note, however, bookings finished in excess of $72 million, and the company posted a positive book-to-bill ratio of 1.08. Equally enticing, is it possible that some sort of "critical mass" is afoot in its Solutions business? A book-to-bill ratio of 1.35 on top of solid sequential sales growth is an encouraging sign at least.

I know it probably seems strange to some that I continue to follow this troubled little company. But I think there's a larger picture still to be painted.

Distribution is increasingly the name of the game, and customers are increasingly demanding all sorts of new avenues for content -- whether it's online through Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), through Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) portable devices, or just through the same old Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) cable boxes. Delivering that content in new ways requires new gear and new software -- and that's what C-COR is counting on.

It takes some serious intestinal fortitude to buy today, to say nothing of a big appetite for risk. I'll freely admit that my objectivity here is tainted by the fact that I've made money on C-COR stock in the past and would like to own this stock again someday. We're not at the all-clear today, but at least this quarter wasn't a step back.

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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).