Why Cray Shares Collapsed

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Cray (NASDAQ: CRAY  ) have fallen by over 13% today after the company reported earnings that, in spite of narrowly beating analyst expectations, still showed a tremendous decline that may well have spooked some short-term investors.

So what: Cray operates in a highly chunky environment, where it may notch a huge sale one quarter and pull in next to nothing in the following quarter. There's only so much demand for supercomputers -- and there wasn't much demand this quarter, as Cray reported $79.5 million in revenue and a loss of $0.23 per share, both significant declines from the year-ago period, and more notably the prior quarter, which saw revenue of $188.8 million and $0.41 in EPS. However, analysts were looking for only $70.3 million on the top line and a slightly steeper loss of $0.24 per share, so Cray put together a double beat.

Now what: Cray's margins were weaker than expected, which could also explain the drop, as could a number of warnings on the well-known uncertainty, which wasn't enough to push Cray executives to shift from their $500 million annual revenue target (with 45% expected to come during the fourth quarter). That's about 20% higher than trailing-12-month revenue (not including this quarter), but after a share-price double over the past year, Cray shareholders might not think there's enough upside left to stick around.

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