We live in a digital world, and Shutterstock (NYSE:SSTK) has worked hard to give companies and people the resources they need in order to interact digitally. With its combination of images, videos, and other accessible content, Shutterstock puts its clients in a position to join the digital revolution and appeal to their own end users.
Coming into Tuesday's fourth-quarter financial report, Shutterstock investors wanted to see signs of building momentum for the company. As we've seen in past quarters, sales weren't quite as good as many would have preferred, but its profit gains were impressive, and 2019 looks to have plenty of opportunity for the digital content specialist to keep climbing.
A solid finish to 2018 for Shutterstock
Shutterstock's fourth-quarter financials were consistent with what investors have gotten used to seeing. Revenue was higher by 7% to $162.1 million, which was a bit slower than the 9% growth that those following the stock had looked for. More pleasing was the company's earnings performance, where adjusted net income nearly doubled from year-earlier levels. That produced adjusted earnings of $0.59 per share, far above the $0.48 consensus forecast among investors.
Shutterstock got good performance on most of its common measures. Paid downloads were up nearly 7% to 46.8 million, accelerating from the growth rate in the third quarter. Revenue per download also moved higher, climbing 2% to $3.40 per download. Shutterstock now boasts almost 242 million digital images in its collection, with 13.1 million videos to supplement its library for its clients.
Relatively balanced gains for Shutterstock's segments helped lift the entire company's prospects. The enterprise segment still had slightly stronger growth rates, with revenue climbing 12%. But the e-commerce division is still the most important contributor of revenue, and its growth rate of 9% picked up the pace from the third quarter of 2018.
Once again, cost containment was a key priority for Shutterstock. Total operating expenses were up just 1.2% from the year-earlier period, as significant declines in product development and overhead costs helped to give Shutterstock latitude to spend a bit more on sales and marketing. A $5 million decline in the company's provision for income taxes also helped bolster Shutterstock's bottom-line gains.
What's next for Shutterstock?
Founder and CEO Jon Oringer put the year into perspective. "During 2018," Oringer said, "we made significant progress toward our vision to provide an end-to-end creative platform that improves our customer and contributor experience." He noted that engagement levels reached all-time highs, and the company is getting not only demand from clients but also healthy supply from approved content contributors.
The company remains focused on strategic imperatives. In Oringer's words, "We are focused on continuing to improve the efficiency, speed, and performance of our platform; to evolve and personalize our customers and contributor experiences, and to motivate a talented global team to drive revenue growth and improved margins."
Shutterstock's guidance for 2019 looks pretty encouraging. Revenue of $685 million to $695 million would represent 10% to 12% growth for the full year, accelerating from recent trends. Similarly, operating income of $37 million to $47 million would be a nice kick upward from the $32.5 million in operating income Shutterstock brought in during 2018.
Investors were happy with the report, and the stock jumped almost 7% at the open following the announcement. If Shutterstock can stay on this trajectory, then the demand for digital assets should put it in a prime position to benefit from prevailing trends throughout 2019 and in the years to come.