What happened

Shares of satellite-communications company Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ:VSAT) closed 17.1% lower on Friday after reporting a big earnings miss -- despite a revenue beat.

According to Yahoo! Finance, analysts were looking for Viasat to report $0.50 per share in losses on sales of $435.1 million for its fiscal first-quarter 2019. Viasat beat the latter number, reporting sales of $438.9 million. Its GAAP loss for the quarter, however, was a bigger-than-expected $0.57 per share.

Satellite orbiting Earth

A new satellite is helping Viasat book more sales -- and lose more money. Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Viasat's sales climbed 16% year over year, but its losses ballooned even bigger -- up more than 250% from the $0.16 per share lost in last year's Q1. Management attributed the loss to greater spending in the quarter on "fixed-cost investments in ViaSat-2 network infrastructure" -- ViaSat-2 being the company's newest high-throughput broadband sat -- as well as spending on "business infrastructure" and also "marketing expenses for Viasat's residential broadband services."

Now what

That marketing appears to have paid off -- not just in the form of greater sales in Q1, but also new contract awards that totaled $570 million. Viasat landed 29% more contracts in terms of dollar value last quarter than in the year-ago quarter. It also "booked" more contracts than it "billed" as revenue in the quarter, giving the company a book-to-bill ratio of 1.3 that promises continued revenue growth going forward.

Analysts currently forecast that revenues that grew 16% in Q2 will end up growing 24% for the year, as a whole, and a further 19% in fiscal 2020 -- and then 16% more in 2021. The more contracts Viasat books, the more likely that is to happen.