What happened

Test equipment specialist National Instruments (NASDAQ:NATI) lost 19% last month, compared to a slight increase in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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The decline left the stock roughly even with the broader market in 2018 after having risen by nearly 30% at one point in the year .

So what

Investors sent shares lower following a mixed first-quarter report. On the bright side, National Instruments made progress along many of management's long-term operating initiatives, including by securing larger customers, cutting costs, and generating higher software-based sales.

Engineers working with testing software.

Image source: Getty Images.

However, Wall Street chose to focus instead on the revenue growth slowdown as sales came in just below management's first-quarter target.

Now what

CEO Alex Davern and his team predicted another record revenue outing for the second quarter that nonetheless left investors wanting more. Sales are set to reach between $320 million and $350 million in the period, indicating a 5% uptick at the midpoint of that range.

As they did in the most recent quarter, profits should improve at an even faster pace. But investors will be watching sales growth, and order backlog, trends for hints at the direction that National Instruments' business will take over the next few quarters.

Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends National Instruments. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.