Updated from 4:43 p.m. EDT

Onetime highflier Brocade ( BRCD) offered an unusual spectacle when it reported earnings Wednesday, saying sales and profits for the quarter showed double-digit gains over last year's levels.

That's a rare sight among tech companies these days. Rarer still, the company's president declared himself "optimistic" about the outlook for the quarter underway.

But despite the ostensibly sunny outlook, executives were tight-lipped on a conference call following the earnings release, declining to elaborate on the growth and revenue breakdown of major product lines. Also, the company offered guidance for only one quarter, though it had previously issued a forecast for two quarters.

"Nothing came out of the call that convinces me I'm wrong," said Brion D. Tanous, an analyst at RTX Securities. He's slapped a sell rating on the stock based on its steep valuation and concerns about the long-term growth rate for its core market, fabric switches. Tanous expects the stock to change hands at $12 eighteen months from now.

Still, investors hungry for any decent news seemed placated by the upbeat guidance. In after-hours trading, shares of Brocade jumped $1.29, or 8.6%, to $16.35. Earlier in the day, buoyed by a broader tech rally, it closed up 6.2%, to $15.05.

Brocade, which makes the switches used in storage networks, said in a conference call Wednesday after the close that revenues will increase by 6% to 9% in the quarter under way, to between $160 million and $165 million. Earnings should be about 10 cents per share, unchanged from previous guidance.

The company said gross margins should remain in the 60% range, helped along by growing software revenues and cost-cutting efforts.

For the just-ended third quarter, Brocade posted a profit of $18.3 million, up 52% from last year and 31% from the prior quarter.

The company said its net income translates to 8 cents a share. But Tanous said earnings per share would actually work out to 7 cents a share, based on the share count most analysts had probably used in their earnings model. The EPS given by the company reflects a lower share count than the Street expected. "The difference had to do with the falling stock price, which lowers the amount of options in the money. Therefore the diluted share count goes down," he explained.

Revenue for the quarter ending in July totaled $151.2 million, slightly above consensus estimates of $148 million, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. Sales rose 30% from a year ago and 12% from last quarter, and the company generated $34.4 million in operating cash flow.

Revenues from software comprised about 15% of total sales. In the conference call, the company chalked up its 60% gross margins both to the growth in software business and to cost reductions and improved supply chain efficiencies.

But despite the details on software, executives refused to comment on growth in the company's core business, fabric switches, or a newer market, the higher-priced director class segment. Brocade said only that it's gained "significant traction" in the latter area, and that it wants to own 40% of the director class market by the end of next quarter.

"I've been able to get product breakouts in the past. I'm a little surprised at how tight-lipped they were on the call," said Tanous. "Everybody's anxious to know that breakout. They need to know if the traditional market is growing or not, or whether gains are all just coming from new product introductions, from the director class."

Indeed, after years of hype, growth expectations for storage vendors have lately come down to earth. International Data Corp. recently cut its growth forecast for fabric switch revenue, the market segment dominated by Brocade, to 12% in fiscal year 2003.