We all know a picture is worth a thousand words. At Getty Images (NYSE:GYI), those pictures translate into lots of dollars, too. Getty's fourth-quarter and year-end results bear that out in vivid detail.

I won't bore you here with the details of Getty's report, which came out after the market closed yesterday. Instead, I'm going to jump in and take a look at why Getty is a great business that, unfortunately, is not quite cheap enough for a value investor like me.

Getty is in the business of licensing images, still or moving, to anyone who wants to use them. If an advertising agency needs a nighttime cityscape picture to make a point about a product, it goes to Getty. If a company needs some images depicting productivity for its annual report or website; it goes to Getty. If you want pictures of naughty nuns in negligees... well, Getty can't help you there, and neither can I.

Anyway, for the year, Getty's revenues grew 19%. Back out the effect of currency conversions, and revenue grew 12.7%. At the same time, Getty cut 0.7% from its cost of sales and reduced its sales, general, and administrative expenses by 3.9%. Revenue growth and cost control are good for the bottom line. But we're going to skip the bottom line and learn how Getty generates so much cash.

Unlike a retailer like Costco (NASDAQ:COST), which carries huge amounts of inventory to stock its stores, Getty carries no inventory at all. So if it has to buy images all the time to stock its databases, where do the images go? They become long-term assets -- inventory is considered a short-term asset -- because management estimates images have a useful life of four years.

Nonetheless, Getty, whose shares currently trade for just under $70 each, has over $4 per share in net cash (cash plus short-term investments minus debt). It also generated $166 million in annual free cash flow off $622 million in revenue. One could make the argument that free cash flow should deduct acquisition spending; doing so brings the figure down to $140 million.

But despite the impressive operations of the business and its strong balance sheet, an enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio of 23 to 27 (depending on which free cash flow you use) is too rich for my blood. As Warren Buffett says, "You pay a high price for a cheery consensus."

Fool contributor David Meier does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.