Why Barrett Business Service, Inc.'s Shares Plunged Today

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 Barrett Business Services (NASDAQ: BBSI  ) fell 10% today after the company announced fourth quarter results.

So what: Net revenue was up 27% to around $144.5 million and adjusted net income rose 50% to $8.7 million, or $1.16 per share. That was in line with previously released estimates but guidance was below expectations.

Management expects first-quarter revenue to be up at least 24% to $735 million to $755 million and a loss per share of $0.45 to $0.50. Revenue is below the current analyst estimate of $761.2 million in revenue and a $0.48-per-share loss.

Now what: This is typically a slow quarter, so I wouldn't be too alarmed with the guidance figures. More important will be how management sees the year unfolding in the second half of the year. I'm not a buyer given the forward P/E ratio over 20, but if shares continue to fall slightly, there could be nice value given the company's growth rate.

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