There's more to Playboy (NYSE:PLA) than titillating photography and celebrity interviews these days. The adult-entertainment leader saw its shares open 9% higher this morning after posting better-than-expected second-quarter results.

A profit of $0.06 per share reversed a year-ago loss. Revenue inched 6% higher, to $85.7 million. Wall Street expected the company to simply break even on more modest top-line growth.

You can't blame analysts for aiming low. Playboy's path has taken more curves than a statuesque centerfold lately. It's missed Wall Street profit targets in half of its quarters over the past two years. In addition, the company's flagship publication is in a sorry state. Playboy magazine is operating at a loss and steadily losing readers.

If anything, Playboy's classic softcore read is an ambassadorial loss-leader these days. It's there to keep the brand going as the company makes bigger splashes in cable programming, cyberspace, and entertainment venues.

Playboy TV, online endeavors, and licensed casinos are the real growth drivers here. The company is also embarking on a joint venture in Macao that will re-create the iconic Playboy mansion as a themed nightlife attraction.

CEO Christie Hefner, Hugh Hefner's daughter, may have been slow to cash in on the promise of the Internet. Playboy didn't launch its magazine in digitized form until two years ago -- but that may also be a blessing.

Hardcore peddlers such as New Frontier Media (NASDAQ:NOOF) and the online arm of Rick's Cabaret (NASDAQ:RICK) suffered year-over-year declines in their Internet businesses during this year's first quarter. Broadband availability is growing, but too many upstarts are taking Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) free YouTube video-sharing model and applying it to raunchier uploads. 

Playboy stands out as a softer, slightly more upscale brand than its naughtier rivals. Yes, this investment definitely weighs on the moral compass. Subscribers were quick to voice polarizing opinions when the stock was recommended in the Rule Breakers newsletter service last year.

However, this morning's report clearly validates Playboy as a growing company. And let's not give up on the print-publishing side, either. The company is looking for a 5% uptick in ad revenue in its magazine in the current quarter. Liquor brands, tobacco firms, and other companies that are finding it harder to advertise elsewhere are drawn to Playboy's adult audience. Sure, that may also rock the moral compass, but it's nothing new for the company. It Playboy built its reputation on the cutting edge, and it's managed to stay relevant for decades. That's no easy feat, no matter how many times this bunny bares its hide.

Playboy is a Rule Breakers pick. Find out what other edgy picks the growth-stock newsletter likes with a free 30-day trial subscription offer.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz invests with a moral compass, though he wouldn't have a problem with the softcore specialty of Playboy. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool's disclosure policy reveals all.