It's a dilemma all Foolish writers face. When we see Mr. Market panic and sell off a great company on a lark, do we swoop in and pick up the shares, or stand at a distance, pointing and shouting to you, our dear readers: "Look! Free money!"

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy, you see. We want you to know for certain-sure that we won't use one hand to type an article hyping (or dissing) a stock while using the other hand to tap the sell (or buy) button on our own online brokerage accounts. So we have a rule around here: No trading in a stock for 10 days before, or after, writing about it. No abusing our readers' trust for our own material gain.

But that policy does have a downside: As writers, we sometimes must choose between advising you of an opportunity, or clamming up and making the trade ourselves. Such was the dilemma I faced when Natus Medical (NASDAQ:BABY) reported its second-quarter 2007 results last week, and the stock immediately began (and today continues) to sell off. Fortunately for you, in a piece I penned yesterday, I goofed and included a reference to Natus as part of a list of firms including Investools (NASDAQ:SWIM), Blackboard (NASDAQ:BBBB), and Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC), whose financials are obscured by the effects of their mergers and acquisitions activity. Result: I can't buy the stock for 10 more days anyway. Might as well clue you in before I do.

The deal
So here's the deal. On Thursday, Natus reported its Q2 numbers, which went a little something like this:

  • 42% sales growth, bolstered again by revenue tacked on from its acquisitions of Deltamed and Olympic Medical. (For the record, that's better sales growth than we saw last quarter.)
  • 43% growth in earnings per share, in line with sales growth.
  • Among its expenses, only R&D spending outran sales growth at 78% (and for the record, I consider heavy R&D spending a plus in a medical-equipment maker). Neither advertising nor administrative costs rose as fast as sales.

Moreover, Natus upped its guidance for the full fiscal year, and it now expects to see $118.3 million to $119.3 million in sales and $0.49 to $0.52 per share in earnings. While this is just a "reiteration" rather than an increase, it's worth pointing out that analysts on average expect Natus to hit only the lower number -- creating a real possibility that Natus will outperform estimates by year-end.

If you see something in the above that justifies the 10% haircut that Natus has endured since reporting earnings, I'd love to hear it. Otherwise -- and barring Mr. Market coming to his senses and bidding the price back up -- I'm planning to pull out my checkbook come Aug. 17.

Blackboard is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. Symantec is an Inside Value selection. You can check out any of our newsletters free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. Yet. The Fool's disclosure policy is doing it for your own good.