Why SciQuest, Inc. Shares Sank 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 SciQuest, (NASDAQ: SQI  ) plunged 19% Friday after the cloud-based business-automation specialist released in-line first-quarter results, but followed with disappointing forward guidance.

So what: Quarterly adjusted revenue increased 23% year over year, to $26.2 million, which resulted in adjusted net income of $0.09 per diluted share. Both numbers were roughly in line with analysts' expectations.

However, SciQuest also expects current quarter adjusted revenue between $25.2 million and $25.6 million, which should result in adjusted net income per diluted share between $0.06 and $0.07. Analysts, on average, were looking for second-quarter earnings of $0.09 per share on sales of $27.1 million.

Accordingly, SciQuest revised full-year 2014 guidance downward, and now expects adjusted revenue between $103 million and $106 million, and 2014 adjusted earnings between $0.27 and $0.30. Both ranges sit well below expectations for 2014 earnings of $0.42 per share on sales of $112.1 million.

Now what: Regarding the downward revision, SciQuest CEO Stephen Wiehe explained, "While we achieved first quarter financial guidance, we experienced an unexpected lengthening of sales cycles for large enterprise deals." To his credit, however, Wiehe elaborated, "the delays have not been caused by competitive pressures and our fundamental drivers remain strong."

Given SciQuest's weak guidance, it's hard to blame the market for bidding down shares today. But Weihe's comments indicate that shouldn't be a problem for long-term investors. Still, shareholders will want to keep a close eye on guidance going forward to ensure SciQuest's large enterprise deals continue rolling in, even if they're later than expected.

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