What happened

Getty Images (GETY -0.80%) reported earnings last night, and the results weren't exactly picture perfect. Today, the stock photo giant's stock fell as much as 23% in the morning session before recovering to a milder 13% drop as of 1:20 p.m. ET.

So what

In the third quarter of 2022, Getty's sales declined by 2.8% year over year to $231 million. Backing out currency exchange headwinds, revenues increased 2.8% from the year-ago period instead. The company recorded a net loss of $0.51 per diluted share, down from a net profit of $0.08 per share in the year-ago period.

Year-over-year comparisons are an apples-and-oranges situation here, since Getty went public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) as recently as July 2022. This is only the second earnings report after Getty's market entry, and the comparable period of 2021 was a radically different business environment.

Frowning person points out one metric on a paper full of charts and diagrams.

Image source: Getty Images.

The stock has been available before, but it's been a minute: A private capital firm acquired the company for $2.4 billion in 2008. After today's price drop, the company is worth about $2.4 billion once again.

That said, Getty provided some full-year guidance targets in the second-quarter report and freshened up those targets in the third-quarter update. The currency-adjusted revenue guidance held steady, with the midpoint of the given range at $968 million. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) also remained in place on a constant-currency basis. Here, the guidance midpoint stands at $315 million, which should work out to roughly 1.8% annual growth.

The unchanged guidance ranges suggest that Getty's third-quarter results met management's expectations. However, that wasn't enough to soften investor concerns about the ongoing crisis in the digital advertising market, where Getty plies its trade. 

Now what

The financial results are difficult to analyze due to Getty's recent market entry. However, the company's customer metrics are pretty clear, and they were mostly inspiring.

The number of active annual subscribers to Getty's stock photo service and other media tools rose 53% year over year to 107 million names. That's up from a 35% annual uptick in the second quarter. The pace of growth in the available image portfolio sped up from 7% to 7.6%, though the smaller video collection slowed down its growth rate from 22% to 21%.

So Getty is picking up plenty of new or increased business even in this inflation-inspired era of tight marketing budgets. The brutal market reaction feels overdone in light of the robust customer measurements, but analysts and investors are still wrapping their heads around this recent reentry into the public market.