There's nothing fruity about Jamba's (Nasdaq: JMBA) latest quarter.

Revenue slipped 18%, to $66.2 million, as the smoothie chain's deficit widened to $6.5 million -- or $0.11 a share. Analysts were hoping for a smaller loss.

However, the report isn't as bad as a superficial read may suggest.

For starters, the top-line hit wasn't all that bad. Jamba's been transferring many of its company-owned stores to franchisees. The end result should be a more fluid concept operator with a steady flow of high-margin royalties. As of now, 434 of the chain's 741 U.S. beverage shops are franchised, with 42 locations refranchised during the first quarter alone. Fewer company-owned stores obviously mean less revenue, and Wall Street was actually braced for a larger 23% hit there.

Another reason to get excited is that systemwide comps climbed 3.1%. It's the second quarter in a row of positive same-store sales after a rough recessionary patch. Traffic counts are actually down at the company-owned stores, but those who are coming are spending more on Jamba's widening menu offerings.

Running a smoothie chain isn't easy. Between McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) rollout of McCafe smoothies and Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) with its Vivanno line, the competition is cheaper and more convenient.

Jamba stands out with its dynamic choices and health-minded boosts. Its brand is also helping it broker unique retail deals.

Jamba has commercialized all nine of its licensed product lines. From energy beverages through Nestle (OTC BB: NSRGY.PK) to a fruit-infused coconut water deal through a distributor with access to PepsiCo's (NYSE: PEP) distribution system, Jamba's hoping to make a splash in retail. Jamba's small enough that all it needs is a hit or two to move the needle, so it's not as if there's a lot riding on the success of frozen novelty bars of Jamba-branded trail mix.

It's still not going to neglect its flagship stores. Things are beginning to happen internationally. South Korea opened its first Jamba store earlier this year, and Jamba announced a partnership in Canada yesterday.

As for the raspberry-red ink on the income statement, it's not a deal breaker. This is a seasonal business with smoothie sales peaking during the upcoming summer season. Besides, the loss actually narrowed on an adjusted basis.

Jamba is still not where it needs to be, but it is taking baby sips in the right direction.

Have you tried a McDonald's, Jamba, or Starbucks smoothie? What did you think? Share your critique in the comment box below.