You could certainly argue that leading eye-care company Alcon (NYSE:ACL) was overdue for some good news. But I find it interesting that investors have reacted with such enthusiasm to what strikes me as a lukewarm report.

Revenue rose about 12% this time around, and that was more or less as expected. And while the improvement in operating income (37% as reported) looks gaudy at first blush, a sizable chunk of that growth came from a reserve reversal tied to litigation with competitor Advanced Medical Optics (NYSE:EYE). Without that sizable item, operating income growth was more on the order of 8%, and the company's bottom line results only beat the median expectation by a few pennies.

That's not to say that there wasn't some good performance at Alcon. New glaucoma drugs continue to perform quite well, and the company's ReSTOR intraocular lens seems to be off to a good start. In the consumer business, Alcon is certainly benefiting from Bausch & Lomb's (NYSE:BOL) well-publicized problems, since contact lens disinfectant sales boomed.

I've griped about Alcon's valuation before, and I'm more than happy to do it again. Alcon is certainly a great company in an under-appreciated market. It's also a "partner of choice" for companies like Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Lilly (NYSE:LLY) that often develop promising drugs for the eyes, but don't want to have to deal with the expenses and difficulties of replicating Alcon's specialized salesforce.

But none of that tells me why I should pay such a rich premium relative to growing high-quality pharmaceutical names like Novartis (NYSE:NVS) (who, by the way, also competes in the eye-care market). Moreover, with Nestle (NASDAQ:NSRGY) holding a controlling interest in the company, you could argue that it should trade with something of a discount.

If and/or when I ever get the chance to grab these shares at a reasonable discount to fair value, that'll be a happy day for me. In the meantime, I'll just observe today's eye-popping run-up from the sidelines.

For more Foolish medical missives:

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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).