In a nutshell, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) gave investors what they were looking for after the bell on Wednesday. That's when the company reported that net revenues increased 22% to $1.52 billion in its second quarter, while earnings per share grew 26% to $0.24 per share, or $101 million, compared with the year ago period. The analyst estimate had called for earnings of $0.24 per share on $1.51 billion in revenues.

The company said that overall sales growth came primarily from the addition of 669 new stores opened over the past 12 months, as well as a 7% gain in same-store sales over last year's first quarter. In the United States, net revenues climbed a moderate 21% during the quarter to $1.3 billion, with a 13% increase in operating income to $196 million. Meanwhile, international net revenues jumped 31% to $242 million -- a figure that helped operating income double to $17 million.

Looking ahead, the company said that it still expects to open 1,500 more stores worldwide in fiscal 2005. In the earnings release, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz attributed particular optimism to expansion opportunities in China beyond the company's 300 existing stores there.

Starbucks also raised its earnings guidance for the year by a couple of pennies to between $1.17 and $1.19 per share, based on the company's solid Q2 performance, as well as a slightly improved fourth-quarter outlook of $0.29 to $0.30. The company still expects to earn $0.29 to $0.30 in the third quarter.

Following the earnings release, Starbucks shares shot up 3% to $47.75 in after-hours trading.

This recently volatile stock has been a fairly hot topic at The Motley Fool. Back in November, following the company's fourth-quarter earnings release from last fiscal year, I suggested that the stock, which I own, might be worth selling at just under $55, or a "hefty" 48 times fiscal 2005 earnings. In mid-February, fellow Fool Nathan Parmelee -- also a Starbucks shareholder -- thought that the stock was a hold at around $50. And just last week, Fool contributor Timothy M. Otte suggested that the stock may be nearing buy territory at around $47.

I think Starbucks still carries a reasonable premium at around 40 times fiscal 2005 earnings. As a value guy, I can't recommend a buy here. That said, I am in Nathan's boat now, particularly as a long-term buy-and-hold investor: Starbucks has a bright future, and the stock probably is too cheap to sell for a company of this quality.

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Fool contributor Jeff Hwang owns shares of Starbucks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.