What happened

Shares of adhesives- and coatings-dispensing equipment maker Nordson Corporation (NASDAQ:NDSN) are down 9% as of 10:45 a.m. EDT, following the company's announcement Monday evening of yet another earnings beat.

So what

Nordson reported 19% growth in per-share earnings to $1.74 for fiscal Q3 2017, on sales growth of 20%, to $589.4 million. CEO Michael Hilton noted that this was Nordson's "strongest quarter in its history."

Analysts had only expected Nordson to report profits of $1.66 per share, and sales of $575.6 million. So once again (and for at least the fourth straight time) Nordson "beat" earnings on Monday.

And yet, Nordson undercut this good news by issuing new guidance for its current fiscal fourth quarter, which appeared to fall short of Wall Street's mark.

A cartoon of two men looking at a stock chart that is declining off the page.

Wait! Didn't Nordson "beat earnings"? So why is Nordson stock down? Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

At last report, Wall Street analysts were predicting that Nordson would earn $1.49 per share on $567.3 million in revenue in its fourth-quarter 2017, growing its profits 7% in comparison to Q4 2016, and its sales 11%. This would bring the company to $5.40 per share in profit, and $2.05 billion in sales, for the year.

Instead, Nordson told investors to expect sales growth of somewhere between 4% and 8% in Q4 -- about half the growth that Wall Street was expecting, at the midpoint of guidance. Profits for the quarter, said Nordson, will range between $1.18 and $1.32 -- so only $1.25 at the midpoint, or 16% below estimates.

Even if Nordson exceeds the midpoint and hits the top of its guidance in Q4, the company will still probably earn only $5.03 per share this year, which is far short of what Wall Street had been expecting. After such a strong year to date, this comes as a big disappointment to investors.

No wonder they're selling in droves.

David Gardner has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Tom Gardner owns shares of Nordson. The Motley Fool owns shares of Nordson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.