It's tough to outperform when the bar is set high, which is exactly what Zumiez (NASDAQ:ZUMZ) is experiencing. People have been expecting good things from the retailer, which might be why the company's excellent second-quarter results still didn't live up to investors' high expectations. However, I imagine many investors realize that Zumiez has some solid long-term advantages and aren't going to let a little dip in stock price harsh their mellow.

Second-quarter net income at Zumiez increased 90% to $3.1 million, or $0.11 per share. Sales zoomed upward 47% to $82 million, driven by strong same-store sales of 11.6%.

It's particularly impressive because things haven't been uniformly great lately for teen retailers, including some that compete directly with Zumiez. A good example is Pacific Sunwear (NASDAQ:PSUN), which lowered its earnings guidance for the current quarter earlier this month (it reports today after market close). Of course, it's worth noting that Pacific Sunwear has been ailing for a long time. Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) may be a strong teen contender, but comps at its Hollister concept, which competes with Zumiez, decreased 3% in the current quarter.

Zumiez isn't expecting things to slow down, either. It raised its full-year earnings outlook to a range of $0.97 to $0.99 per share from the previous $0.94 to $0.96 guidance. And it's not as though Zumiez doesn't have other things to speak for it. Its balance sheet is cushioned with twice the cash it had stashed away last year at this time. Additionally, the company doesn't have to worry about using up that cash to pay off interest expenses, as the balance sheet remains debt-free.

Investors bid Zumiez down a bit today, but let's not ignore the fact that the stock jumped yesterday, increasing by 8% in a single day. Zumiez is up nearly 90% in just a year. Maybe it's understandable that some investors think they'd better bail before they wipe out, but I can't help but think they might end up regretting that decision.

Tom Gardner recommended both Zumiez and Volcom (NASDAQ:VLCM), which provides board-sports-related apparel to retailers including Zumiez, to Motley Fool Hidden Gems subscribers last year. So far, both have been impressive successes on the scorecard. (As of this writing, Zumiez has returned 44%, and Volcom's two recommendations have returned 100% and 24%.)

I'm not alone in believing both companies take an authentic route to the hearts of board sports enthusiasts, and that's a competitive advantage. Zumiez stores incorporate not only fashion apparel but board sports gear in their merchandise, and hire only people who know the sports to work on the sales floors. Volcom sponsors board sports competitions and has its own music label; these are just a few examples of how these companies set themselves apart from other retailers and brands that target this market niche. It's a little easier to avoid becoming a fad when you're the real deal.

If you look at typical valuation measures for Zumiez, it probably does look scary-expensive, and this stock is sometimes volatile, as premium-priced stocks often are. For example, Zumiez's forward price-to-earnings ratio of 37 probably doesn't strike anybody as particularly appealing, even if the company does have in place a long-term target of 30% earnings growth annually. However, given Zumiez's success so far and what appear to be real competitive advantages, I'd say it's possible that investors who give up now are giving up on a great long-term holding.

Check out this related Foolishness:

Zumiez and Volcom are Motley Fool Hidden Gems picks. Pacific Sunwear is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Check out either of these newsletters free for 30 days.

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

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.