Shares of Vocera Communications (NYSE:VCRA) plunged as much as 25.1% lower on Friday following the release of in-line earnings but disappointing guidance targets.
The maker of communications- and workflow-management tools for the healthcare sector saw fourth-quarter sales rising 11% year over year, landing at $48.9 million. Adjusted earnings fell 18% to $0.18 per diluted share. All of this was roughly in line with Wall Street's expectations.
Looking ahead, management sees a net loss of $0.22 per share on top-line revenues near $34 million in the first quarter. Analysts had been hoping for earnings in the neighborhood of $0.06 per share on sales of approximately $45.6 million. Vocera's full-year targets also fell far below Wall Street's current expectations.
The shutdown of the federal government "couldn't frankly have happened at a worse time for us," said CEO Brent Lang in Vocera's earnings call. The company was caught in the middle of several federal contract negotiations, and some existing order bookings from the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs didn't get the follow-up attention that they needed. There was simply nobody to talk to on the federal side of things, triggering financial pain for the first quarter and the new fiscal year in a very direct way.
Vocera hopes to make up for most of the lost federal momentum later this year, but some of the potential and expected business was just lost. Because this is a high-flying growth stock -- Vocera's shares are still up 46 in 52 weeks and trade at a meaty 61 times forward earnings -- investors demand perfection from this company's earnings reports and didn't get that this time. All told, it's no surprise to see Vocera's shares take a drastic haircut today.