What happened

Shares of Equifax Inc. (NYSE:EFX) dipped 22.3% in October, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The stock saw negative pressure amid sell-offs for the broader market, but the company's third-quarter earnings report was the biggest catalyst behind last month's decline.

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The credit reporting company posted third-quarter results on Oct. 24, delivering sales and earnings for the period that came in below the market's expectations. Guidance for the current quarter also came in below analyst targets, helping to push the stock to a fresh 52-week low.

Paper being torn to reveal text that says Credit Score.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

The average analyst estimate called for Equifax to report adjusted third-quarter earnings of $1.42 per share on sales of $857 million. Actual earnings for the period came in at $1.43 per share on sales of $834.2 million -- and were paired with a less-than-encouraging outlook from management.

Prior to the earnings release, the average analyst estimate was targeting earnings per share of $1.43 for the fourth quarter and revenue of $863.8 million. However, management expects earnings for the period to come in between $1.30 and $1.35 and sales to be between $835 million and $850 million. The company is seeing weakening demand for mortgages, and it also continues to incur expenses related to the massive data breach it suffered in 2017.

Now what

Equifax is one of only three major credit reporting companies, which should work in the business's favor, but its reputation and bottom will likely continue to be negatively impacted by last year's data breach in the near future. The company does appear to be investing to improve security, with expectations to spend $275 million this year improving its technologies and infrastructure. 

Keith Noonan 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.