Is it too early to announce the death of optical networking? Ask Alliance Fiber Optic Products (Nasdaq: AFOP), and the answer would be an emphatic "yes."

The fiber-optic components maker just announced a respectable second quarter with 13% sequential revenue growth and 30% stronger non-GAAP earnings. At $0.16 per share, those adjusted earnings matched the only available analyst estimate (from all-star CAPS firm B. Riley). While they're lower than the year-ago numbers, the results look like a healthy bounce off the bottom of a negative cycle.

To be sure, fiber optics have fallen out of favor in 2011. AFOP shares have fallen  by 47%, alongside a slightly steeper drop for direct rival Oclaro (Nasdaq: OCLR) and a somewhat less heart-stopping 37% swoon at sector peer Finisar (Nasdaq: FNSR). Larger industry players JDS Uniphase (Nasdaq: JDSU) and Corning (NYSE: GLW) stand out by not falling off a cliff, though both are trailing the S&P 500 so far this year. And those guys have the luxury of buffering their optical networking woes with sprawling, diverse business models.

AFOP CEO Peter Chang sees the bounce continuing in coming quarters, including 7.5% higher sales in the next quarter at the midpoint of his guidance. Chang bases that forecast in input from his customers, and also reports "renewed demand across most sectors in the second quarter."

Sales VP David Hubbard further explained that "the general conditions seem to be improving for most people." I suppose you can take that as a vote of confidence in the general optical networking market. An inventory glut across network system builders has abated, unlocking refreshed growth for AFOP and its fellow component wranglers.

Alliance Fiber Optics plays a small and lumpy part in a booming industry, as demand for fatter networking pipes has never been higher. In a special report naming The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2011, we presented another anonymous soldier in the networking wars that's poised to make a big splash for investors. Just click here to download this free report right now.

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