What happened

Shares of electrical raceway products manufacturer Atkore International Group Inc. (NYSE:ATKR) are down 21.9% as of 2:05 p.m. EDT. Atkore reported its fiscal third-quarter 2017 earnings this morning, and the results fell short of analyst expectations.

So what

Analysts had been looking for Atkore to report profits of about $0.44 per share on sales of $424.5 million in Q3. Instead, the company earned only $0.41 per share, diluted -- and sales were only $397.7 million.

Thus, while Atkore grew its sales year over year (by about 0.5%), grew its profits a healthy 24% year over year, and delivered "EPS results that are in line with our guidance," the results still fell short of what Wall Street was expecting.

Declining stock chart and the word "Crash" sketched on red chalkboard

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

The bigger concern is what comes next. According to data provided by Yahoo! Finance, analysts had been hoping that Atkore would close out this year with $1.57 billion in total sales, and profits (probably pro forma) of $1.57 per share. Now, with Q3 a disappointment and fiscal Q4 already halfway over, it appears likely that Atkore will come up short.

Revising its guidance for the year as a whole, Atkore now says its "adjusted EPS" for fiscal 2017 will range between $1.37 and $1.45 per share. It's hard to say what that will work out to in terms of generally accepted accounting principles, and management gave no guidance adhering to this method. What does seem clear, though, is that the results will fall short of expectations -- for the second quarter in a row.

No wonder investors are upset.

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.