Online photo house Getty Images (GYI) beat analysts' estimates and nudged guidance upward.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, Getty reported net income of $28.7 million, or 46 cents per diluted share, up from the year-ago figure, excluding an income tax credit of 30 cents per share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had expected EPS of 40 cents.

Revenue amounted to $162.1 million, up 20%; excluding the benefits of changes in currency exchange rates, says Getty, sales would have risen 15.5%. Analysts, guided by Getty as recently as Dec. 9, had expected revenue of $155 million.

Operating margins grew to 27% of revenue, up from 21.1% in the corresponding quarter one year earlier.

Getty CEO Jonathan Klein said in a statement that the company had experienced a strong December.

The company's shares rose 62 cents to $65.90 Thursday, before the quarterly results were released.

Looking ahead, Getty said it expected first-quarter 2005 revenue in the range of $175 million to $180 million, and EPS in the range of 51 cents to 54 cents. Analysts had been expecting EPS of 52 cents off revenue of $172 million.

For the year, Getty forecasts revenue in the range of $705 million to $715 million, and EPS of between $2.10 and $2.20, excluding the impact of expensing stock-based compensation, which the company expects to implement in the second half of the year.

Last month, Getty predicted 2005 revenue in the range of $690 million to $700 million, and earnings of between $2.05 and $2.15 a share.