The name Coldwater Creek (NASDAQ:CWTR) seems to be a contradiction in terms -- things seem to be anything but cold for this retailer lately, and it's even bucked the trend for the chilly tidings in February that emanated from many retailers. Case in point: The company reported some pretty impressive earnings numbers late Wednesday.

Coldwater Creek's fourth-quarter profit increased a whopping 66% to $18.9 million, or $0.20 per share, with sales up 41% to $287.9 million. The company's quarterly earnings beat analysts' estimates by $0.03 per share.

Other elements look pretty attractive, too. Coldwater Creek's got $131.9 million in cash and no debt. Its gross margin in the fourth quarter climbed to 46%, from 42.3% in the same quarter last year, which the company attributed to increased merchandise margins and full-price merchandise sales. Inventory increased 35.4%, which is less than sales growth, and that's just what retail investors like to see; Coldwater Creek said the increase was attributable to the addition of 60 stores since the end of fiscal 2004.

Coldwater Creek may not be a stock on the tip of everybody's tongue -- companies like Gap (NYSE:GPS) and Chico's (NYSE:CHS) get a lot more attention from pop culture -- but the company has been steadily performing, whether or not anybody talks about it at cocktail parties. Like Chico's -- and Gap's new concept Forth & Towne -- Coldwater Creek addresses an older female demographic: in this case, women 35 to 60 years of age.

Chico's, of course, is one of the names that gets a lot of buzz -- here's a flashback to its most recent quarter. These companies also compete with Talbots (NYSE:TLB), J. Jill (NASDAQ:JILL), and Ann Taylor (NYSE:ANN) for a share of the mature female shopper's disposable income. It's pretty much agreed that this is a lucrative demographic to address, but some companies have definitely been doing a better job than others. It seems the older female customer is a discerning one.

Coldwater Creek may not be the company that gets the most word of mouth, but its stock price has been steadily increasing over the course of the last year, so it's obvious that somebody's paying attention. This chart tells the story. And of course, at my most recent check, Coldwater shares had increased just shy of 17%. While investors have reason for optimism today -- and its consequently high P/E is higher than its expected growth -- it stands to reason that investors who wait until the euphoria dies down might find a better bargain. Regardless, though, there's no question that Coldwater Creek looks pretty hot.

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