Ah, Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK). Some investors love it, some hate it. Today, it delivered the kind of earnings report that has earned it that mixed reputation, reporting a loss for the quarter as it continues to chase hefty sales gains.

Overstock's second-quarter loss of $2.6 million, or $0.13 per share, was better than the $0.22-per-share loss (before special items) that analysts anticipated, although the amount of its loss did widen vs. the year-ago quarter. Revenues jumped 72% to $150.6 million -- that's a lower rate of growth, but the company had already said in the past that April got off to a "sluggish" start. Gross profit increased 124%, and Overstock retired $33 million in debt.

Patrick Byrne's press announcement, which always includes a letter to shareholders, had an interesting discussion of mud pies and cream pies (how's that for an analogy?) that addresses his views on one-time items. Drilling down into the descriptions, the "cream pie" in question was a one-time gain from retirement of the debt noted above, which resulted in a $4 million gain and implies the quality of the numbers wasn't quite as impressive as they might seem on first approach. In fact, it's arguable that the company missed its operating number badly with such a large one-time gain.

Other than that, it doesn't seem that the story has changed much when compared with Overstock's last quarter and recent history. The company continues to infuse money into initiatives to support the company's heady growth. Aggressive television advertising campaigns have been a major trademark through which the company has spent big bucks in order to stake its claim in the online space. It's taking on such formidable rivals as Motley Fool Stock Advsior recommendations Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), of course.

Overstock recently bought online travel company Ski West and delayed its earnings release to put technological improvements in place. In the press announcement, Byrne underlined the importance of bulking up infrastructure to support the heady growth he expects for his retail site.

It's understandable how some investors would prefer a more cautious approach and less uncertainty than they can find in Overstock, and today's earnings might give them fair reason for nervous twitches. On the other hand, Overstock's aggressive plans could very well make it an upstart leader in the online space. For now, though, we might have to wait until the busy holiday season to get a better idea of how Overstock can stack up to rivals.

Stock up on further Foolishness:

Overstock.com is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Want to learn more about stocks with Rule-Breaking potential? Take a free trial today.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.