On Monday, California-based battler against music, video, and software pirates Macrovision (NASDAQ:MVSN) reported spectacular earnings and revenue growth for the fourth quarter and 2003.

Revenues were up 26% for the year and 32% for Q4. Quarterly earnings rose roughly 1000% (yes, three zeros). Annual earnings did not do quite that well, but the company still turned in pretty impressive results -- up 146% net, and 150% per share.

In other words, the company upped profits and bought back 2% of its shares outstanding to increase per-share earnings. Not too shabby. Furthermore, Macrovision predicts continued double-digit revenue growth in 2004, and its balance sheet reflects its confidence in the future.

How can a balance sheet express confidence, you ask? Well, look at it this way: Ordinarily, we say that a company's "cash" consists of its cash, cash equivalents, and short-term marketable securities. We generally ignore long-term marketable securities when calculating "cash."

But Macrovision's balance sheet shows that after a profitable year, the company is $48 million poorer in "cash" than it was 12 months ago. When you see an anomaly like that, you have to look closely at the balance sheet to find the whole story. In Macrovision's case, the story is in the long-term assets section. That is where you will find all of Macrovision's missing cash -- and then some. Macrovision spent its cash and some of its profits to buy long-term securities. Why?

Because good companies are a lot like Fools. They tend to keep enough cash on hand, perhaps in a savings account or in six-month CDs, to meet their expected short-term needs. When there's extra cash, they sock it away in the highest-paying investments they can find. Often this includes investing in income-producing instruments, such as the dividend-heavy companies highlighted in Motley Fool Income Investor.

So when Macrovision decides to reallocate its "portfolio," keeping a small rainy-day fund close at hand but moving the bulk of funds into long-term investments, chances are the company is feeling pretty confident about its future.

And that should make Macrovision investors feel pretty darn good, as well.

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Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned here.