What happened

Shares of power and industrial markets supplier Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises (NYSE:BW) got crushed in early Wednesday trading, down 39.3% as of 11 a.m. EST.

So what

Expected to report $0.37 per share in profits on $483 million in revenues in its Q4 earnings report, Babcock, instead, admitted last night that it lost money. A lot of money -- $1.47 per share. Babcock took in less revenue than expected, too -- just $380 million -- which was 24% less revenue than in the year-ago quarter.

CEO E. James Ferland blamed the loss on "productivity and schedule issues in our Renewable segment," which "significantly impacted our results." Whereas the company's industrial segment expanded briskly in the quarter, growing revenues 76%, the much larger power segment saw revenues plunge 33% because of "lower activity in retrofits, new build utility and environmental work and industrial steam generation." The company ended the year with $2.31 per share in losses on less than $1.6 billion in revenues.

Stock chart crashing through floor.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Granted, management is promising a return to growth in the new year. Just-issued guidance for 2017 calls for sales growing back to between $1.6 billion and $1.8 billion and "adjusted" profits of $0.75 to $0.95 per share. That being said, management notes that its "adjustments" exclude the cost of "intangible asset amortization expense, restructuring expenses, acquisition and integration costs, non-cash mark-to-market adjustments for pension and other post-retirement benefits and spin-off transaction costs."

After deducting all of that, will there be any money left on the bottom line as actual net profit? That's anybody's guess. Judging from their reactions, investors don't seem optimistic.

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.