What happened

Shares of 3D printer maker Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) are moving toward ending the week lower -- down 11% as of 11:55 AM EST after missing analyst sales estimates for fiscal Q4 and (maybe) missing earnings estimates as well.

Wall Street was predicting  that Stratasys would earn $0.21 per share on sales of $185.8 million in Q4, although it's not clear whether analysts were forecasting actual generally accepted accounting principles numbers or following more lenient pro forma reporting. If the former, then Stratasys missed badly, reporting just $0.12 per share earned in Q4 this morning. If the latter, Stratasys merely met expectations, reporting an "adjusted" profit of $0.21 per share.

Either way, sales clearly missed estimates. Stratasys reported  revenue of just $177.1 million.

Check out the latest earnings call transcript for Stratasys.

3-D printer

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Stratasys's sales declined 1% year over year in Q4. Gross margins earned on those revenues improved slightly, up 40 basis points to 49.1%, but gross profit still declined because of the lower sales. Stratasys posted an operating loss, but recorded a $12.9 million profit from "associated companies" that returned it to profitability on the bottom line.

For the year, Stratasys posted a similar 1% decline in sales to $663.2 million, an operating loss -- and a net loss, too: $0.22 per share.

Now what

Things could get (a little) better in 2019, however. For this year, Stratasys is projecting a return to sales growth, with revenues reaching between $670 million and $700 million.

Despite this, however, Stratasys says it'll probably end the year with another net loss -- between $0.22 and $0.40 per share.

That's not what investors wanted to hear, and I can't say as I blame them.

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.