"Great" isn't always good enough, as optical networking specialist Infinera (Nasdaq: INFN) is learning the hard way today.

Infinera reported a stellar third quarter with 56% sales growth year-over-year and a solid net profit. Largest customer Level 3 Networks (Nasdaq: LVLT) bought more big-ticket optical routers than expected, which drove up sales and margins significantly, and Infinera CEO Tom Fallon said that this report "validates our long-term business model and demonstrates the leverage that is achievable." The stock rose more than 8% after these results were published. So far, so good.

But then the conference call started, and Fallon started explaining that this quarter was an anomaly. The fourth quarter should return to normal seasonality when you add things up as trailing-12-month numbers, meaning that Level 3, Global Crossing (Nasdaq: GLBC), and other major customers pushed their orders in a little earlier than expected. Infinera is a small company next to towering rival Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and just half the size of Ciena (Nasdaq: CIEN), which means unpredictable results when large customers fiddle with their order patterns. That's bad enough to erase not only the 8% jump, but also most of the 53% rise Infinera's stock had enjoyed over the last year.

There is no question in Fallon's mind, nor mine, that high-speed networking has a bright future. Infinera is a leader in dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) optical networking on a global scale, though American tier 1 network providers Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T) have yet to subscribe to Infinera's platform. In other words, sales and earnings may be unpredictable in the short term but remain on track for very strong results over the next few years. Infinera got a decapitation to cure a hiccup, and I see nothing but a buy-in opportunity as the company gets back to business and sprouts a new head.

I'm taking this opportunity to rate this bona fide Rule Breaker and five-star CAPS stock "outperform" in our CAPS system for the next couple of years. You can follow my all-star lead in just a couple of clicks. I think you'll be glad you did.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Infinera is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. The Fool has written calls (Bull Call Spread) on Cisco Systems. The Fool owns shares of Infinera. 

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