What happened

Shares of Middleby Corp. (NASDAQ:MIDD) tumbled 10% in early Wednesday trading, and are still trading off by 6.5% as of 11:50 a.m. EST on the first trading day after the company reported its fiscal Q4 and full-year 2017 earnings.

Wall Street had expected $1.48 per share in pro forma profits on sales of $646.8 million for fiscal Q4. The oven maker met that profit goal, but reported sales of just $632.9 million, thus "missing" on sales.

Wood-burning pizza oven with pizza pie about to be put into it

Middleby stock is less than red-hot this morning. Image source: Getty Images.

So what

From a GAAP perspective, the news read a bit differently. Diluted earnings per share of $1.35 for the quarter may have met Wall Street's expectations, but they nonetheless fell 4% below what Middleby had earned in last year's Q4. (Earnings for the full year, on the other hand, were up -- $5.26 per share in 2017, versus $4.98 per share in 2016.)

At the same time, despite missing estimates for sales, Middleby nonetheless did more business this year than last. Q4 sales grew a healthy 6% to $632.8 million. Full-year sales were up 3% at $2.34 billion.

As for free cash flow, Middleby did not provide a full cash flow statement with its earnings release, so we're left to calculate that. (Read why that's important in this class column by fellow Fool Bill Mann). That said, management did say that operating cash flow for the year increased to $304.5 million, up less than net income but still at least up 3.5%.

Now what

Management also declined to give specific guidance for what to expect in 2018, with CEO Selim Bassoul saying only that he's hoping to deliver "continued profit margin improvements in 2018 and beyond."

For what it's worth, though, Wall Street predicts that Middleby will earn $6.45 per share on sales of $2.59 billion in 2018. If they're right about that, it would equate to more than 22% earnings growth -- and could be enough to send Middleby stock roaring right back this year.

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