There may be nothing as perfect as one of Krispy Kreme's(NYSE: KKD) lard and sugar-filled rings of joy. Yeah, we're talking doughnuts, but not just any doughnuts. Krispy Kreme's are different, and when you see that "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign lit up, it's like a beacon from heaven.

OK, perhaps we exaggerate a bit, but just look at the company's fourth-quarter comp sales if you don't believe us. Lots of folks are munching down on some Original Glazed love, and Krispy Kreme's growing fatter for it. (Some of those munchers undoubtedly are, too, but we digress.)

Same-store sales for the quarter ended Feb. 2 rose 11.8%. That's pretty sweet. Krispy Kreme didn't release its total sales today, but one can bet based on these comps that they'll be impressive. It will give its full fourth-quarter rundown on March 18.

Krispy Kreme also said it's comfortable with the 2003 fiscal year estimate of $0.65 a share. That represents 44% earnings growth over last year. The company announced it expects to grow earnings for 2004 by 35% to $0.88 a share, ahead of existing estimates by $0.04.

Spreading its tasty temptations around, Krispy Kreme opened 28 new stores in six new markets during the quarter. For all of 2003, it enticed customers with 63 new stores and three new doughnut and coffee shops. It will open even more stores in fiscal 2004, adding 77 new stores in 17 new markets.

Shares have come down over the last year, like a kid from a sugar high. They touched a new 52-week low this past Monday, but are up almost 9% today to around $31. That means the stock is now trading at a forward P/E of around 35, matching its expected earnings growth for the year. While still not the sweetest bargain around, shares are much more reasonably priced today than for much of 2001, when they traded at a P/E over 100.