What happened

Shares of Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR), Canada's "national champion" in space technology, were plummeting to Earth this morning, lighting a fiery flame across the NYSE as the stock plunged 20.9% by 11:50 a.m. EST.

The reason: earnings.

Satellite beaming transmission to Earth.

"Hey, Houston! You aren't gonna believe how much money Maxar Technologies just lost!" Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Or rather, the complete lack of earnings. Heading into Q4, analysts had advised investors to expect decent revenue growth at Maxar -- 12%, to about $560.3 million. Earnings were expected to take a hit from Maxar's recently announced loss of its WorldView-4 satellite but still come in positive at $1.06 per diluted share.

Instead of this modestly good news, Maxar reported a massive $16.10-per-share loss on sales of just $496 million (a slight decline from last year's Q4).

Investors are panicking, fleeing in droves, and Wall Street is downgrading the stock. According to reports from TheFly.com, Maxar's countrymen at CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) and TD (Toronto Dominion) Securities have both downgraded the stock, with CIBC cutting Maxar to "underperformer" and TD only modestly more optimistic with a "hold" rating.

Click here for the latest earnings call transcript for Maxar.

Now what

And the situation could get worse before it gets better. Declining to provide clear guidance on what it expects to earn in 2019 (if anything), Maxar instead gave vague warnings of increased capital spending, cash flows that are "a headwind," and a fiscal year that will get better after Q1...implying that Q1 will be pretty bad.

To which I suspect Maxar investors would reply: "As if Q4 wasn't already bad enough!"

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.