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What happened

Shares of FireEye Inc. (NASDAQ:FEYE) were down 16.4% as of 11:00 a.m. EST Friday after the cybersecurity specialist announced mixed fourth-quarter results, new management appointments, executive turnover, and disappointing guidance.

So what

Quarterly revenue was flat from the same year-ago period, at $184.7 million. And FireEye's adjusted net loss narrowed to $4.8 million, or $0.03 per share, compared to a net loss of $56.5 million, or $0.36 per share in last year's fourth quarter. Billings also fell 14% year over year, to $221.8 million. 

For perspective, FireEye's guidance called for higher fourth-quarter revenue of $187 million to $193 million, higher billings of $230 million to $250 million, but also a wider adjusted net loss per share of $0.16 to $0.18.

During the subsequent conference call, management blamed the billings and revenue shortfall on lower-than-expected product sales.

FireEye CFO Mike Berry elaborated:

We were tracking on our expected billings linearity throughout most of the quarter but we saw several large deals failed to close, particularly in the last week of the quarter. Several of these deals had large product components which contributed to a greater-than-expected decline in product billings and revenue. We do not believe there is any particular pattern to the deals that didn't close in the fourth quarter in terms of specific products and the distribution was consistent with our overall product mix. We believe the majority of these deals were pushed into 2017 versus being lost. While we expect some of these transactions to close in the first quarter, some of these larger deals may also extend into the second quarter of 2017.

To a lesser extent, FireEye saw a shortfall relative to expectations in the Asia-Pacific region, which it believes was largely related to sales management transitions in the Middle East and Japan. And for the majority of the second half of the year, keep in mind FireEye had no head of worldwide sales, and no head of sales in Europe.

To that end, FireEye hired Kevin Taylor as the lead of its Europe, Middle East, and Africa sales organization. Taylor will report to Bill Robbins, who joined FireEye as its executive VP of worldwide sales in November. FireEye also appointed John Waters, the former CEO of iSIGHT Partners, to the newly created role of executive VP of global services and intelligence.

On a more concerning note, however, FireEye announced Berry is leaving the company "to pursue another opportunity." Succeeding Berry as CFO is Frank Verdecanna, the company's previous senior VP of finance and chief accounting officer.

Finally, FireEye announced David DeWalt -- the company's former CEO and most recently executive chairman of the board -- has resigned from the company.

Now what

For the current quarter, FireEye expects revenue of $160 million to $166 million, down from $168 million in last year's first quarter, and well below analysts' consensus estimates for $176.6 million. FireEye also projects billings of $130 million to $150 million, and an adjusted net loss of $0.26 to $0.28 per share. Here again, Wall Street was expecting a narrower adjusted net loss of $0.24 per share.

In the end, whether the majority of FireEye's pushed orders are indeed delayed (and not canceled) doesn't matter much to the market, which hates to effectively be told to hurry up and wait. That sentiment is amplified for companies like FireEye that are striving to grab market share and achieve sustained profitability. As such, it's no surprise to see FireEye stock down big today.

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.