Why Actuate Corporation Shares Plunged

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 Actuate Corporation (NASDAQ: BIRT  ) fell nearly 19% Wednesday after the personalized analytics company released disappointing fourth-quarter earnings.

So what: Quarterly sales came in at $32.4 million, which translated to adjusted earnings of $0.09 per share. By contrast, analysts were modeling earnings of $0.10 per share on revenue of $35.19 million.

Going forward, management expects 2014 revenue to fall to $122 million -- a result led by 10% growth in its BIRT iHub business to $82 million, but offset by continued declines in its legacy business, which should achieve combined license and maintenance revenue of $40 million. Analysts, on average, were looking for total 2014 revenue of $146.25 million.

Separately, Actuate detailed the acquisition of German software company legodo, whose products should "significantly extend" Actuate's Customer Communication Management offerings. Specific financial terms for the deal weren't released.

Now what: Actuate may look relatively cheap trading around 14 times next year's estimated earnings, but keep in mind those estimates are likely to fall as analysts have time to fully digest today's miss. Additionally, given the added risk for Actuate in successfully implementing the acquisition, I prefer to keep Actuate on my watch list for now.

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