By any stretch of the imagination, Genentech (NYSE:DNA) is one of the most successful biotech stocks of all time. Product approvals? Oh, yeah. Profits? You bet! Good stock performance? Put a "check" there, too. In fact, Genentech has been so successful that I think you can argue whether it's really a biotech stock or a pharmaceutical stock. Well, you can argue about that; I'm moving on to the earnings.

Results for the third quarter were quite good. If you're going to miss any estimates, miss the ones that don't matter so much -- just as Genentech pretty much has. While sales of Tarceva, Xolair, and Raptiva weren't quite as strong as expected, sales of Avastin and Herceptin were extremely strong. Rituxan, too, was a little disappointing, but the magnitude of the miss was less than 2% relative to the average of analyst projections.

Overall, the company generated 44% more product revenue and 46% more total revenue. Margins were solid, and the company posted operating earnings growth (on a GAAP basis) of 72% and net income growth of 55%. Like most other pharmaceutical companies, Genentech generates pretty solid cash flow, and the company repurchased more than 10 million shares in the quarter -- and spent more than $900 million to do so.

Looking ahead, there are plenty of reasons to think the company can keep up the pace. Not only is the company going to work on physician education to see Avastin used better and longer for patients, but there are also additional regulatory filings on tap for Avastin, Rituxan, and Herceptin. Investors should realize that doctors are already using these drugs in a variety of off-label ways; once a drug is approved, a doctor can prescribe it for almost anything. But once the Food and Drug Administration approves additional indications, the company can rev up the marketing engine and better optimize potential revenue.

What's more, Lucentis should emerge as a threat to Eyetech Pharmaceutical's (NASDAQ:EYET) Macugen -- which is co-marketed with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) -- for macular degeneration, and there are other new drugs in phase 1 and phase 2 testing as well. In other words, the cupboard is not bare.

Although it looks as though Genentech is finally "enjoying" some of the problems of being a real pharmaceutical company -- including patent litigation, reimbursement concerns, and employee stock option expensing -- that growth is hard to ignore. Trying to value this stock is no treat, but I'd think that growth-oriented investors should still have much to look forward to over the years.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).