The Cinco de Mayo parade is just getting under way at

Univision

(UVN)

.

The Los Angeles-based media company may not rank among the industry's household names. But Univision posted a blowout first quarter late Wednesday and reaffirmed annual guidance.

Now, some investors say the Spanish-language broadcaster is poised to make big strides in the coming TV season and beyond, cashing in on the rapid growth of the Spanish-speaking TV audience.

Late Wednesday, Univision posted a 29% earnings gain on a 23% jump in revenue. The company's latest-quarter earnings beat Wall Street estimates by 2 cents. Its shares dropped fractionally Thursday.

Despite its low profile, the company's broadcast network is now sitting at the grownups' table. It's a solid No. 5 among the big broadcasters, and on most nights this past quarter it delivered more primetime viewers in the key 18-34-year-old demographic than at least one of its big competitors:

Viacom's

(VIA) - Get Report

CBS,

News Corp.'s

(NWS-A)

Fox,

Disney's

(DIS) - Get Report

ABC or

GE's

(GE) - Get Report

NBC. For the uninitiated, advertisers covet 18-34 year-olds with unquenchable passion.

Which leads to this month's Upfront season, the approximately $9 billion marketplace during which media buyers decide where to place their dollars for the upcoming television season. Given its ratings success, Univision is expected to take a larger piece of the pie this year as marketers commit more to reaching Hispanics.

According to sources close to the company, Univision picked up some $800 million in Upfront commitments last year. Not too shabby, but that number should exceed $1 billion this time around. That's especially impressive in a marketplace that is expected to be flat to down this year, coupled with the likelihood that more dollars will flow to cable channels than ever before.

The U.S.'s fastest-growing population, Hispanics boast of buying power well into the hundreds of billions and quickly approaching $1 trillion, by some estimates.

Can Wall Street feel the Latin heat?

"Our unprecedented audience penetration across all of our platforms puts us in an ideal position as advertisers look to alternatives to the traditional English-language media outlets for their advertising dollars," says Chief Operating Officer Ray Rodriguez. With Spanish-speaking audience levels exploding, Univision is now competing with English-language networks for a loyal audience with money to spend while the traditional broadcasters are watching overall ratings flat-line.

Each year, media buyers meander a little further away from broadcast networks and toward cable programming to hit targeted audiences. They are now flirting with throwing more dollars at rich and streaming media.

For advertisers trying to figure out what network works, Univision sure seems like a secure bet in an otherwise dazed and hypercluttered television marketplace.