The last time corn sweetener producer Corn Products (NYSE:CPO) reported earnings, the stock was the biggest percentage loser on the NYSE and setting a new 52-week low. At the time, I asked, "With blood running in the streets, is it time to buy Corn Products?" It was. The stock has soared more than 40% since then. But is it still time to buy?

On Oct. 18, the company reported that sales for the third quarter climbed 5% year over year. Diluted earnings per share fell 3.1%, impacted by a previously expected increase in the income tax rate from 33% to 45% (as a result of a shift between U.S. and foreign income). Talk about a tax bite! To provide some perspective, the company's earnings would have grown 19% if its tax rate hadn't moved.

High energy costs damped results in the U.S. and Canada, but strong Mexican sales of high fructose corn syrup -- the kind of sweetener used in everything from Motley Fool Inside Value pick Coca-Cola's (NYSE:KO) namesake beverage to the heavy syrup covering Del Monte's (NYSE:DLM) canned pears -- allowed North American operations to post a small sales increase but a strong 9.5% increase in operating profits, offsetting price/mix and volume declines in the company's U.S. and Canada businesses.

Results, as the company predicted, boomed in the Asia/Africa segment. Falling corn prices, nearer to historic norms, allowed South Korean operations to get back on track. A 4% volume increase for the region led to a 9% revenue increase, partially reflective of favorable currency translation gains. With an additional boost from lower raw material costs, operating income ballooned 75%.

The company stuck with its revised earnings guidance of $1.16 to $1.22 a share, down from the $1.25 earned last year and well below the $1.34 to $1.44 the company had projected much earlier in the year.

Is the stock a good value? Last quarter, I compared Corn Products to competitor Imperial Sugar (NASDAQ:IPSU) via an EV-to-EBITDA ratio. Corn Products had a 7.1 ratio, well below Imperial's 7.9. However, with Imperial awash in cash after selling its Holly Sugar subsidiary and preparing to pay a $2.50-per-share special dividend, that comparison isn't entirely relevant.

But here's something that makes sense to me: Look at the company's 19.2 forward earnings multiple (based on mid-range 2005 guidance) and compare it to the 10% annual growth analysts expect for the next five years. I'd call that rich for a company exposed to commodity risks (although the company does hedge corn to moderate price volatility). At very least, the stock is no longer value-priced.

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Fool contributor W.D. Crotty does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. Click here to see the Motley Fool's disclosure policy.