In just a little more than a decade, Getty Images (NYSE:GYI) has pieced together an attractive and profitable business of selling still and moving images. Investors, imagining continued juicy stock gains, had increasingly hopped on the bandwagon -- but then, last December, most of them decided to abruptly sell their shares.

Shareholders weren't pleased when Getty tempered forward guidance late last year. Growth is indeed slowing -- a 20% top-line expansion back in 2004 fell to only 10% last year, and a stock-option investigation means the company is holding off on filing certain financial statements until it finishes minor adjustments that it announced last month.

That's a lot of uncertainty for a former highflier, but Getty eases the pain a little by throwing off a fair amount of free cash flow. Selling images is very lucrative and represents a toll road of sorts -- Getty collects a fee every time it provides "high-quality, relevant imagery to creative professionals at advertising agencies, graphic design firms, corporations, and film and broadcasting companies," as well as just about anyone else imaginable who's interested in purchasing an image. And its website provides a very convenient avenue to reach millions of potential customers, be it Interpublic Group (NYSE:IPG), IBM (NYSE:IBM), DreamWorks Animation (NYSE:DWA), or Clear Channel Communications (NYSE:CCU).

Growth does look to be hanging in there and has already attracted private equity interest. Overall, the company continues to use substantial cash-flow generation to actively consolidate a still-fragmented visual-content industry, and release new or acquired website platforms.    

Based on current management guidance, Getty is trading at about 20 times forward earnings. That's clearly less than just four months ago, but I'm staying on the sidelines until I have the opportunity to peruse some more recent financial statements and try looking into the future of a firm that, by most company standards, has a limited operating history.

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.