Middleby (NASDAQ:MIDD) may be the definition of a boring stock -- it specializes in ovens. Then again, I think I'd like to nominate Middleby as one of the least boring of all the boring stocks out there.

This "dull" old oven maker's second-quarter net income increased 14% to $12.6 million, or $0.75 per share. Sales increased 8% to $113.3 million. All this was achieved despite a work stoppage at its Elgin, Ill., facility. Analysts (all six of them -- it's not a widely followed company) had expected Middleby to generate a mere 6% increase in earnings, or $0.71 per share. However, Middleby was a bit shy on the sales end of things, since they expected 10% revenue growth.

Middleby has been on an acquisitive kick, and a big part of its strategy is to buy businesses that fit into its strategy on the cheap and improve their profitability. In its press announcement, it said that Jade, which it acquired from Whirlpool's (NYSE:WHR) Maytag unit in April, has reached breakeven profitability in the first 90 days since Middleby has owned it (it historically reported operating losses of $3 million annually), a heartening sign. After all, as recently as March, Middleby mentioned how Jade could hurt earnings for the near term, meaning the second and third quarters, and it appears that for the second quarter, this was not the case. Other recent acquisitions include Carter Hoffman, Wells Bloomfield, and MP Equipment.

Middleby competes with TurboChef (NASDAQ:OVEN) to install ovens in commercial enterprises. A well-known Middleby customer is Papa John's (NASDAQ:PZZA). Middleby seems like a logical stock to invest in to capitalize on long-term eating-out trends. Plus, it's so "behind-the-scenes," since it's certainly much more obscure than studying a household-name stock like Burger King (NYSE:BKC).

As it stands, Middleby has proven itself a crown jewel for Motley Fool Hidden Gems; Tom Gardner recommended it in November 2003 and re-recommended it two subsequent times, as well. These entry points have produced returns of 672%, 202%, and 116%, respectively. Tom has often dubbed CEO Selim Bassoul one of his favorite company heads. I can see why; at various times when I have checked out Middleby's conference calls, I have felt that Bassoul tends to show a great deal of knowledge about his company and industry, speaking about strong demographic trends that Middleby's business can capitalize on.

Is it too late? A forward P/E of 20 just about matches Middleby's expected 20% increase in 2008 earnings, so it doesn't sound outrageously overvalued, especially considering its tendency to exceed expectations. Given the long-term view and Middleby's historical success, Foolish investors might want to think about whether boring is beautiful.

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As you've already seen, Middleby is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation -- the July issue included Tom Gardner's most recent update on this stock, so click here to read more, free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy is flame-broiled.