Coldwater Creek (NASDAQ:CWTR) has been hot for quite some time, but investors got the chills on account of its third-quarter results. Despite the fact that the quarter was actually very impressive in many ways, it was probably inevitable that at some point, the market would find something in this retailer's numbers that wouldn't live up to the high expectations.

Third-quarter profits at Coldwater Creek skyrocketed 51.8% to $15.9 million, or $0.17 per share. Sales increased 37.2% to $256.4 million. Same-store sales increased 9.9%, compared with a 6.8% increase in comps this time last year. Gross profit rose to 47.7% of sales from 46.8% of sales.

If you take a look at our Fool by Numbers for the full story, you'll see there's a lot to like about the retailer. For example, Coldwater Creek's got $108 million in cash and no debt. On the other hand, inventory rose 57.3%, outpacing sales growth.

Honestly, though, I'm not sure I quite understand what has caused the fire sale on Coldwater Creek's shares (at my last check, the stock had dropped nearly 9%). It was a very impressive quarter, and despite the fact that the company said the fall season has been "highly promotional," its margins didn't suffer. One of the trends this past summer was for investors to react poorly if a company didn't increase its earnings outlook. Maybe that's part of the reason why investors aren't looking too fondly on Coldwater Creek right now.

Overall, though, Coldwater Creek's consistently impressive quarters have shown it has been competing admirably for the older female shopper, similar to the one that Chico's (NYSE:CHS), Talbots (NYSE:TLB), Ann Taylor (NYSE:ANN), and Gap's (NYSE:GPS) Forth & Towne try to lure.

And of course, that's why Coldwater Creek trades at a whopping 53 times trailing earnings. Much like the events that befell Chico's and Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN) earlier this year, such high-growth, premium stocks often face major wrath from the marketplace, and confidence is shaken. Sometimes that blow to confidence can come from some detail that, in the grand scheme of things and from a long-term perspective, seems small indeed.

Last quarter, I admitted that Coldwater Creek's been firing on all cylinders, but I did feel that at some point better prices might come investors' way, and now there's a glimmer of that sort of opportunity. (Despite the fact that I don't think there's anything particularly ominous about Coldwater Creek's third quarter. In fact, it looks pretty darn impressive to me.) However, even with today's price cut, Coldwater Creek stock may still qualify as a pricey endeavor if it can't continue to live up to investors' high expectations.

For more on Coldwater Creek, catch up with the following Foolish articles:

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Alyce Lomax owns shares of Urban Outfitters. The Fool has a disclosure policy.