RealD's (NYSE: RLD) fourth-quarter earnings helped answer crucial questions about the company's future, but it still has a long way to go. Despite its unexpected $4.5 million profit, investors fearing the end of the 3-D craze pummeled the company's shares by 13% just one day after the quarterly release.

Here's a look
Revenue grew 5.6% year over year to $58.5 million for the quarter, while earnings of $0.08 a share beat analysts' projections of $0.14-per-share loss. This small, somewhat overlooked piece of good news owed largely to new screen installations; the number of RealD-equipped theaters nearly tripled year over year, to 15,000.

Even though U.S. and Canadian screens represent almost 60% of RealD's installed theaters, these venues only contributed about 46% of RealD's gross quarterly licensing revenue. International viewers provided the remaining 54%.

The disproportionate business abroad could suggest that theaters' demand for 3-D, and patrons' interest in it, may be slowing much more dramatically than the industry expected. Investors and entertainment execs alike should closely watch international markets to see which big players will maintain dominant market share.

Fortunately, the company has stockpiled $16 million in cash against just $2.3 million in long-term debt, leaving it well-prepared to weather any short-term trouble.

Even more importantly, the company's cost of revenue this quarter fell by nearly half year over year, to about $28.6 million. Cheaper installation costs should continue to fatten RealD's profits going forward.

What's next?
Though Walt Disney's (NYSE: DIS) Pirates of the Caribbean 4 and DreamWorks Animation's (Nasdaq: DWA) Kung Fu Panda 2 endured disappointing debuts, I don't think the global 3-D craze has peaked yet. More forthcoming 3-D movies this year should give RealD a chance to improve its revenue and outlook.

Moreover, the company aims for additional revenue through consumer electronics, partnering with Samsung and Sony (NYSE: SNE) to develop and promote 3-D technology for television sets and PCs. This move carries risks for RealD, since fickle consumers and high unemployment could squelch demand for fancy new 3-D sets.

The Foolish bottom line
Now that a few big 3-D films have fizzled at the box office, it's easy to believe that the sky is falling for 3-D movies. However, even if that dire possibility comes true, I still see brighter days ahead for RealD. With analyst Morgan Joseph TriArtisan upgrading the stock to a price target of $28, the company may be ready to start its comeback.

Debarati Bose does not include shares of any of the stocks mentioned in the article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Walt Disney and DreamWorks Animation SKG. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.