What happened

Shares of Dean Foods Company (NYSE:DF) were down 13.2% as of 2:15 p.m. EST Monday after the dairy products leader announced disappointing fourth-quarter 2017 results.

Dean Foods' revenue declined 4.1% year over year to $1.935 billion, and translated to adjusted income from continuing operations of $22.7 million, or $0.25 per share, down from $0.38 per share in the same year-ago period. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $0.26 per share on revenue of $1.96 billion.

A lineup of Dean Foods products including milk, chocolate milk, ice cream, sour cream, and half and half

Image source: Dean Foods.

So what

Dean Foods CEO Ralph Scozzafava noted his company endured a "rapidly changing industry landscape and a dynamic retail environment" over the past year. But the company is responding by taking steps to improve retail execution, consolidate its manufacturing capacity, and reduce costs.

"Some of these actions are already gaining momentum and contributed to our fourth-quarter 2017 results," Scozzafava added. "These actions become a critical path in our go-forward commercial agenda as well as an aggressive enterprisewide cost productivity program in 2018 and beyond."

Now what

Dean Foods expects its cost productivity program to generate $150 million in incremental annual run-rate savings by 2020. In the meantime, Dean Foods sees full-year 2018 adjusted earnings per share arriving in the range of $0.55 to $0.80 -- well below the $0.87 per share investors were anticipating.

In the end, while Dean Foods might well be taking the right steps to ensure its eventual return to sustained, profitable growth, and to remain competitive despite broader industry headwinds, the market hates being told to hurry up and wait. And it's no surprise to see the stock pulling back today in response.

Steve Symington has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.