What happened

Shares of Pitney Bowes (NYSE:PBI) have fallen, down 14.5% as of 11:52 a.m. EDT, after the business solutions provider released its second-quarter earnings report.

So what

The company earned $0.26 per share on sales of $821.4 million, falling short of analyst predictions of $0.36 per share (probably pro forma) and $822.2 million, respectively. Relative to last year's second quarter, sales declined 2% and profits were down 7%.

Regardless, CEO Marc B. Lautenbach accented the positive, arguing that Pitney Bowes "continued to make progress on our strategic agenda" and that its "financial performance was indicative of a company going through a transformation."

Free cash flow was $18 million for the quarter, a 72% decline from last year's $64.3 million (per data from S&P Global Market Intelligence).

Man's silhouette imposed on declining stock chart

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

That said, Pitney Bowes is holding out high hopes for a recovery -- in free cash flow at least -- by year end. In the guidance section of its earnings report, Pitney told investors it expects to generate between $400 million and $430 million in cash profits this year. That's the good news.

The bad news is that this guidance is down from a range of $400 million to $460 million as of last quarter. Management further narrowed guidance for sales trends -- now expected to range from flat to a 1% decline. Management declined to give guidance on net earnings for the year, providing only pro forma guidance for adjusted EPS of between $1.70 and $1.78 per share -- lowering the ceiling on that range by $0.07.

In short, Pitney's numbers were disappointing last quarter, and while free cash flow may recover in the year's second half, everything else seems to be trending down. No wonder investors are heading for the exits.

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.