What happened

Nearly one week ago today, analysts at Swiss megabanker Credit Suisse upgraded Bloom Energy (NYSE:BE) stock ahead of earnings, reasoning that its sharp sell-off during the month of October had returned it to a reasonable price.

Boy, was that ever a bad call.

Yesterday evening, Bloom reported its fiscal third-quarter results -- only its second-ever earnings report as a public company. The company "beat earnings" with a per-share loss of $0.13 (pro forma) on sales of $190.2 million, beating analyst expectations for a $0.19-per-share loss on $184.5 million in sales. Regardless of the "beat," though, investors took one look at Bloom Energy's report and proceeded to sell off the stock -- now down 20.2% as of 12:10 p.m. EST.

Bloom Energy boxes outside Yahoo! HQ

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Why didn't investors respond better to Bloom Energy's beat? That's hard to say, for while it's undeniable that Bloom Energy lost money -- a lot of money -- in Q3, the truth is that a lot of its numbers saw substantial improvement over one year ago.

Sales, for example, not only beat estimates but grew 103% year over year. The company turned in a gross profit of $39.5 million -- better than what it achieved in Q2 and much better than its gross loss of Q3 2017. And cash burn decreased; Bloom Energy's cash from operations for the year to date now stands at negative $13.6 million in Q3, down from $64.1 million in negative cash from operations at this point in time, one year ago.

Now what

So why are investors selling Bloom Energy today? Twist my arm and make me guess.

My hunch is that it has something to do with the company's guidance for fiscal Q4. Although provided only in the vaguest terms, describing the numbers of 100 kw Bloom Energy "boxes" it expects to sell (250) and at what average price (about $6670 per kilowatt), Bloom's guidance appeared to imply that Q4 sales will be less than $167 million -- and if that's correct, then Q4 sales could come in below sales for Q2 or Q3, either one.

Such a sales number would also fall short of the $221 million that Wall Street has been modeling for Bloom Energy in Q4, implying that there's an earnings miss in Bloom Energy's immediate future. And that, I suspect, is what's frightening shareholders today.

Rich Smith 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.