It was three dry years for the fruit crusher, but Jamba Juice parent Jamba (Nasdaq: JMBA) is finally on its way back.

Jamba revealed yesterday that its same-store sales inched 0.2% higher during the fourth quarter. That isn't much, but it's the first time that the 743-unit chain has posted positive comps since 2007.

After three years of lowering the bar, it naturally makes it that much easier to deliver year-over-year growth at the individual store level. I keep thinking back to denim dealer Gap (NYSE: GPS). Paul Pressler joined the company as CEO after it had suffered through three years of devastating comps. All he had to do was sneeze to make comps improve in 2003. The pixie dust didn't last, and Pressler was shown the door a few years later.

The only thing surprising about Jamba's rebound is its timing. McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) has been aggressively marketing its premium McCafe smoothies since their summertime rollout. Can McDonald's be actually educating the market on smoothies, driving traffic to Jamba for folks seeking a broader selection of blended treats with vitamin-charged boosts?

Maybe it was just a coincidence that Jamba's comps began to slide just before Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) introduced its Vivanno line of smoothies a few years ago. It could have just been a recessionary slump on Jamba's part, especially in its hard-hit California market.

Widening the offerings -- from oatmeal to coffee drinks to this week's debut of probiotic fruit and yogurt blends -- doesn't appear to be confusing Jamba's clients.

The only part of the turnaround thesis that isn't going according to plan is Jamba's bottom line. Losses have been narrowing, but each of the four analysts putting out profit targets expects Jamba to post another deficit in 2011. These aren't pessimists, either, because they actually overestimated Jamba's quarterly results in each of the past four periods.

There's always the possibility that a buyout comes along. There are several food, beverage, and fast food giants that would be able to amplify Jamba's brand and make the most of what appears to be the early stages of a turnaround. Ideally, Jamba will be able to get this right on its own, but like its own signature smoothies, it's never wrong to ask for a boost.

Have you tried the McCafe or Vivanno smoothies? How do they compare with Jamba Juice or Smoothie King? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz lives within walking distance of a Jamba Juice and frequents it often. He does own shares in Jamba. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.