Image source: AeroVironment.

What happened

Electric vehicle charging company AeroVironment, Inc. (AVAV -6.93%) saw shares plunge as much as 19.4% in early trading Wednesday after reporting fiscal first quarter earnings. At 11:30 a.m. EDT shares were still down 16.1%.

So what

AeroVironment said revenue fell to $36.2 million in the quarter from $47.1 million a year ago. Most of the decline came from the drone segment, which had revenue of $30.5 million in the quarter. 

On the bottom line, net loss grew from $7 million a year ago to $11.6 million. On a per share basis, the loss was $0.51, which was far higher than Wall Street's $0.15 estimate, and that's a big reason why shares dropped Wednesday. 

It's worth noting that management stuck to its full year guidance of $260 million to $280 million in revenue and earnings of $0.25 to $0.35 per share. Management said some revenue was delayed in the first quarter and that most revenue would be in the back half of the year.

Now what

AerovVronment really took a long-term view of its business a few years ago when it put money into research and development to develop new products. What investors are looking for is fruit from that investment in the form of growth. And while management is still pointing to a brighter future, the results are only projections and the losses that are piling up in the meantime are concerning. I don't think it's time to give up on AeroVironment's future yet, but if it can't hit full year expectations there will be a lot more pain ahead for shareholders.