This is just getting annoying. I've looked at Packaging Corporation of America (NYSE:PKG) a few times already now, and I've been pretty positive on this maker of containerboard and corrugated packaging. Yet inevitably, it seems that I write my column, put myself into the Fool's 10-day trading blackout period, then forget to revisit PCA again a couple weeks later.

Judging by today's stock market reaction, it seems that I'm not the only one whose attention to this company has flagged a bit. Earnings came in well ahead of the company's own expectations, as costs stayed under control and the company successfully implemented a new price hike even faster than they initially expected.

Revenue was up 6% this quarter, which admittedly doesn't sound like a tremendous jump. Nevertheless, gross margins did improve, and operating income growth tracked the top-line performance. And while shipments and production of corrugated and containerboard product were up about 2% and 1%, respectively, inventories dropped a bit further.

The big unknown is, of course, the state of the economy in the coming quarters. PCA deals more with smaller customers, and it could be argued that they may feel the pinch more than larger customers, who have greater wherewithal to muddle through tougher times. If demand can stay firm, the benefits of those prior price increases should keep coming through, which will be good for margins and cash flow.

For my part, PCA is risky enough as it is. It's true that it has a better cost profile than some of its competitors, but we're still talking about a cyclical business. Nevertheless, Smurfit-Stone (NASDAQ:SSCC) should benefit from the same trends, and it could be a higher-potential idea if you can accept the greater risk. Investors could also consider a stock like Weyerhaeuser (NYSE:WY) as a turnaround and income play.

However you may look at it, we're not talking about a General Electric (NYSE:GE) or Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) here. And though today's spike does take away some of the appeal of PCA stock, there's still a hefty dividend and the probability of better results in the next few quarters. Be careful with this one, and make sure you can handle the volatility that goes with a cyclical stock. Me? I'll be bumping this up my watchlist.

For more Foolish food for thought:

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).