Investors plug in Dycom's latest numbers, and don't like the result. Image source: Getty Images.

What happened

Shares of Dycom Industries (NYSE:DY) stock dove 24% in early Tuesday trading in response to a fiscal Q1 2017 earnings report released the previous evening. The shares have since recovered somewhat -- all the way "up" to a 19.5% loss as of 12 p.m. EST.

So what

Media reports are characterizing Dycom's report as an earnings "beat," with pro forma earnings of $1.67 for the quarter exceeding analyst estimates by $0.02 and net profits jumping 35% year over year to hit $1.24 per share. Nonetheless, Dycom's quarterly revenue of $799.2 million (up 21% year over year) fell just short of consensus predictions of $801 million in revenues.

That doesn't sound like such bad news -- superb growth in both revenues and profits, a modest beat on earnings, and only a tiny miss on revenues. Regardless, investors are punishing Dycom shares with a huge sell-off in response. Why?

Now what

No matter how well Dycom performed last quarter, investors appear fretful about the future. Dycom cut its estimate of its own "contract backlog" by $211 million in response to lower than expected prospects for its newly acquired Goodman Networks subsidiary, cut its revenue expectations as well, and issued new guidance for fiscal Q2 that fell broadly short of analyst expectations.

According to management, "total contract revenues for the second quarter of fiscal 2017" will range between $640 million and $670 million. Analysts were looking for something much closer to the high end of that range -- $667 million. Profits will likely fall between $0.53 and $0.65 GAAP, or $0.61 and $0.73 pro forma. Analyst estimates, given in pro forma form, were calling for $0.72.

Long story short, it's still possible for Dycom to meet or even beat expectations in the current second fiscal quarter, but it's looking increasingly unlikely and investors don't like that news one bit.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.