OK, kids. The word of the day is "preliminary." As in, Children's Place (NASDAQ:PLCE) reported preliminary results.

Now, that's a pretty common occurrence; companies report unaudited information all the time. What's less common, however, is when a company has year-old earnings results that are still preliminary.

Children's Place must wait for the completion and results from an investigation into its stock option practices. The company's accounting will likely be corrected, thus affecting its fiscal 2005 and first-quarter 2006 earnings.

Let's look at the numbers (some of which may look very different in the future). Children's Place reported fourth-quarter earnings of $46.8 million, or $1.56 per share. Excluding special items, which include costs associated with the investigation, earnings were $53.6 million, or $1.79 per share. For the time being, its full-year net income totaled $84.6 million, or $94.3 million, excluding special items.

Let's forget about the preliminary information for now and focus on actual results. Same-store sales at Children's Place were up 6% in the quarter. Although its Children's Place locations contributed just 3%, it was up against a difficult year-ago performance in which it reported an 11% increase. Besides, its Disney locations more than compensated, increasing comps by 14% in the quarter. For the year, comps were up 11%, with Children's Place locations growing 10% and Disney stores 14%.

Even without the probable adjustments, a chart of Children's Place's stock price over the past year looks like a ride too bumpy for most toddlers.

Although we still need to see what those fiscal 2005 earnings are really going to look like, Children's Place at least feels confident about its future, as indicated by its increased earnings guidance. And the good news about the fluctuation is that it offers plenty of dips for new investors to go for a ride up. Of course, the inverse is true as well. While I don't expect the fluctuations to stop any time soon, it certainly seems to be in a valley right now, despite the fact that the company's been performing well of late. For those who meet the height, I mean, bravery requirements, it could potentially be very rewarding.

For more on retailers that sell kids stuff, check out:

Fool contributor Mike Cianciolo welcomes feedback and doesn't own any of the companies in this article. Gap is both a Stock Advisor selection and an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy never turns down a playdate.