In professional sports, a 1-3 record is nothing to brag about.

But if you're a specialty retailer like Brookstone (NASDAQ:BKST), that quarterly win/loss record can still yield a winning record overall -- if you bring margin of victory into the equation. For retailers, a strong showing in the Christmas season can wipe out nine months of losses faster than you can slide into Tempur-Pedic (NYSE:TPX) Comfort-Step suede slippers (available, of course, at Brookstone).

So, like fans of a football team that makes that final end-of-season push to the playoffs, Brookstone investors are ready to forgive and forget strings of quarters of net losses in exchange for one stellar, pure as ionized air, profitable fourth quarter. Come to think of it, they haven't had too much to complain about recently -- the stock is up almost 50% since December 2003. Perhaps a better analogy for the company is a team that rolls into the playoffs on a winning streak.

Examining the third-quarter earnings announcement shows the company's loss of $0.33 per share was 10% worse than the year-ago quarter's $0.30 loss, but corresponding sales were up 16%, and comparable-store sales ("comps") grew a healthy 4.3%. Most importantly, Brookstone forecast a similar growth rate in comps and raised full-year earnings per share estimates to $1.12 to $1.14, up from the $1.10 to $1.12 it offered in August. While Christmas shopping patterns are difficult to predict, Brookstone seems to be well-prepared to profit from the season. Since it has met with success in its direct-marketing approach, management has decided to print and distribute more than 19 million catalogs this holiday season, up from 11 million in 2003. It's hard to believe that such a dramatic increase in catalogs won't have some positive impact on revenues, and, at least to some degree, earnings.

With what looks like a nice performance this upcoming quarter and a fairly modest share value of 17 times 2004 estimated earnings -- all while carrying very little debt -- Brookstone is worth considering for one's portfolio. Also, besides vying for attention from fans of rival Sharper Image (NASDAQ:SHRP), the company might even interest Red Envelope (NASDAQ:REDE) watchers who expect a strong Christmas for retailers but are worried about a reenactment of the Red's inventory woes from last season.

Read what other Fools have written about Brookstone and Sharper Image:

Fool contributor Marko Djuranovic does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this article.