加拿大皇家银行（RBC CAPITAL MARKETS）股票分析师安德烈•瑟奎因说：“他们确实给自己定了很高的目标。投资者们普遍预期它的增长率将维持在高位。”
It's typically not a good sign when a CEO dumps stock in his own company. But last month, when Shutterstock's Jon Oringer sold 2.5 million shares of the stock photo firm he founded as part of a larger secondary offering, the company's stock rose sharply, jumping 17% to trade above $70.
It was a testament to investor demand for shares in the New York-based company, which went public just over a year ago and has seen its stock price rise 240% on the strength of growing sales of digital pictures and video. Shutterstock (SSTK) has beaten expectations each quarter since its IPO and has a market capitalization approaching $2.5 billion. But the stock isn't cheap. It trades with a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 45 (Google's (GOOG) trailing P/E is 28; Apple (AAPL) trades at 12), and analysts expect that ratio to climb to nearly 65 by the end of 2014.
Analysts say demand for Shutterstock shares are due in large part to investors looking for a "quality story" in the mid-size technology space. The question is whether or not the company can deliver on the market's expectations of steady growth in revenue and earnings.
"They've definitely set a high bar for themselves," says Andre Sequin, an equity analyst at RBC Capital Markets. "There's an expectation in the investor class that the growth rate is going to be pretty significant."
Shutterstock's digital library has grown to 30 million photographs, and it sells three photos each second at an average of $2.33 per photo. Vetted contributors constantly send in photos and receive 30% of the sale price when their photos are purchased.
Shutterstock finished 2012 with gross profit of $105 million on sales of $169 million, a 40% percent profit jump over 2011. This year, revenue and profit have ticked steadily upward. And Shutterstock recently inked a deal with Facebook (FB) to let advertisers use its photos and is expanding its catalog of stock video. The company is also growing its international business. In 2012, 72% of Shutterstock sales came from outside the U.S. (European sales totaled $62.9 million in 2012, compared to $60 million in the U.S. and $46.7 million from the rest of the world), and the company is now translating its website into 20 languages.
The case for Shutterstock's continued growth is fairly straightforward. As broadband Internet expands, more and more people (read: bloggers, companies, entrepreneurs) are making their way online across the world. With more people visiting websites on mobile devices like phones and tablets, the demand for pictures and videos has grown exponentially. Most marketers don't even send an email without a photo these days, analysts say, and companies have grown increasingly demanding about the appearance of their websites.
"With the migration to mobile, digital content is getting increasingly visual," says Rebecca Lieb, a digital media analyst at the Altimeter Group. "Everything written we see diminishing and everything visual is absolutely booming. As long as that trend continues, and I see it continuing for at least five years, the prospects [for Shutterstock] are very, very good."