Despite being a shareholder of leading cosmetic and aesthetic laser manufacturer Candela (NASDAQ:CLZR), I've nonetheless been somewhat harsh in my assessments of the company's recent performance. I've harped on management's promise of "white hot sales" that subsequently turned in lukewarm results. I've raised an eyebrow over claims that the laser maker's new savior -- intense pulsed light technology -- will not be some false god. And I expressed doubt that this quarter's results would be anything to smile about.

Truth be told, though, Candela's performance this quarter did seem acceptable, if not downright promising. Revenues grew 25% over last year for the quarter, to a record $34.7 million, and profits, excluding extraordinary costs related to the failed lawsuit against the Regents of the University of California, were actually up nearly 20%. On a pro forma basis, earnings actually increased 44% over a year ago, to $0.13 a share (not the $0.06-per-share loss the company reported).

Even so, I see no reason to loosen the thumbscrews just yet.

The lost lawsuit against the Regents means that although Candela maintains its exclusivity agreement with them, it must pay the Regents a higher royalty rate going forward. Those higher costs will cut into the laser maker's profitability, already an area in which the company admits it needs to show stronger potential -- as do its rivals Palomar Medical Technology (NASDAQ:PMTI) and Cutera (NASDAQ:CUTR).

Palomar reported a 57% increase in first-quarter revenues and a similar rise in gross profits. It also recorded a 203% jump in net income: $3.5 million this year versus $1.9 million last year. Similarly, Cutera reported a 31% increase in revenues, a 578% increase in earnings, and gross margins that rose from 69% to 73% year over year. Candela's performance paled in comparison.

The company is hoping that China and Brazil become large earnings contributors over time. Some 57% of Candela's revenues come from outside the U.S., representing some still largely untapped markets. And cosmetic and aesthetic procedures remain a growing industry. Laser and light-based cosmetic and aesthetic treatments are currently estimated to be a $3.3 billion market, up from $2.2 billion in 2002, with more than 4.4 million procedures performed this year.

With more than $47 million in the bank, a total that has grown by more than $10 million this fiscal year, Candela should perhaps also think about buying back some of its shares. The stock sits 22% below its 52-week highs and has stayed this low or lower for most of this year. Just a few days more than a year ago, Candela's stock was more than 40% above its current spot.

Candela remains an industry leader, and its continuous winning of approval for new procedures for its GentleYAG laser is both heartening and promising for the future. I'm still waiting to be blown away by sales numbers one of these quarters, or at least singed from their being "white hot," and I hope the new IPL technology turns out to be all that is promised. Yet considering recent results and the fact that it's coming to the game late, while I'm not selling my shares, I feel Candela may be a penny late and a dollar short.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares in Candela, but not in any of the other stocks mentioned in the article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.