What happened

Shares of online car-buying service TrueCar (NASDAQ:TRUE) closed down 9.4% on Wednesday, after key indicators in the company's first-quarter earnings report fell short of Wall Street expectations -- and in one case, short of TrueCar's own prior guidance.

So what

TrueCar reported its first-quarter earnings result after the market closed on Tuesday, and it missed Wall Street's expectations. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $0.01, short of the $0.02 average expected by analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research.

The entrance to TrueCar's headquarters in Santa Monica, California

Image source: TrueCar.

TrueCar didn't do so well against the guidance it gave at the beginning of the year, either. While revenue of $81.1 million was just above the midpoint of its guidance range, its adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization) of $6.0 million was at the low end of guidance, and total "units" -- the number of vehicles purchased via its service in the quarter -- fell short of its guidance range.

Investors have been looking for steady progress, but the company's road has been a bumpy one. CEO Chip Perry has several major initiatives under way to increase revenue and get to profitability -- but given that the first quarter fell short of expectations, those improvements may take a while to materialize.

Now what

TrueCar guided to solid year-over-year improvements in the second quarter. It expects total units to come in between 243,000 and 248,000, up from 242,130 in the year-ago period, along with incremental year-over-year gains in adjusted EBITDA and revenue.

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.