Middleby's (NASDAQ:MIDD) acquisitive leanings continue to help it deliver impressive results. The oven maker reported respectable growth in first-quarter sales and earnings, although some investors may wonder how much growth remains from here.

First-quarter net income at Middleby increased 33% to $10.7 million, or $1.28 per share. Sales increased by 9.2% to $105.7 million, including a 3.7% sales gain from Middleby's recent acquisition of Houno. The company said it had a 5.5% increase in organic sales.

Surprising few after last quarter's rumors and rumblings, Middleby announced plans for a 2-for-1 stock split. When speculation first arose, Fool co-founder Tom Gardner made it clear that he would rather not see that come to pass with Middleby. As the Fool has often cautioned, stock splits may alter psychology surrounding stock prices, but a split doesn't change a stock's actual value in the least. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) are two excellent examples of stocks that have never split.

Middleby is a three-time Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation, having appreciated by 639% since Tom Gardner first recommended it in November 2003. Not surprisingly, heated discussion has recently arisen on the Motley Fool Hidden Gems discussion board dedicated to Middleby, as subscribers debate whether it's a good time to cash out of the stock.

A trailing P/E of 24 might sound pricey for a "boring" oven provider, but I've noticed that the company's conference calls make Middleby and its industry sound more exciting and growth-oriented than one might think. The company's paying an impressive amount of attention to new product lines, demographics, and industry trends as it competes with companies like TurboChef (NASDAQ:OVEN) for business.

Middleby's growth areas include energy-efficient ovens, and a "disruptive" upcoming product that management promises will deliver energy savings while extending the shelf life of cooking oil. In addition, Middleby management said that the Jade Products business it acquired from Whirlpool's (NYSE:WHR) Maytag unit will help it target Baby Boomers, who have very different eating habits than Gen X consumers and younger demographics. When combined with Americans' overall trend of eating out more frequently, that could provide a potent growth catalyst.

I can see why a glance at Middleby's five-year chart might give some current shareholders a case of cold feet. But given the opportunities at hand, and the company's success with acquisitions and growth over the past several years, perhaps long-term Middleby investors shouldn't be too hasty about cashing out now.

Reheat some past Foolish coverage:

Middleby is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. To find out what other companies have been recommended by the service -- or to get in on the lively debate about Middleby's future on the Middleby discussion board -- click here for a 30-day free trial.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.