What happened 

Shares of Owens-Illinois (OI -0.59%) fell as much as 21.7% in trading Tuesday after the company reported third-quarter 2019 results. As of 1:20 p.m. EDT today, shares were still down 18.7% and didn't show much interest in moving higher. 

So what

Quarterly revenue fell slightly to $1.67 billion, and loss from operations before income tax ballooned to $536 million from positive earnings of $168 million a year ago. Total net loss was $575 million, or $3.69 per share, down from a profit of $120 million, or $0.75 per share, a year ago. This is despite higher selling prices and the acquisition of the Nueva Fanal glass factory. 

On an adjusted basis, earnings were $0.54 per share, down from $0.75 a year ago, which was only a penny below expectations. For the full year, management expects $2.20 to $2.25 per share in adjusted earnings. 

Green glass bottles in a manufacturing plant.

Image source: Getty Images.

The results caused CEO Andres Lopez to issue a stark statement about the company's reactions to weakening conditions: 

In the face of softer than expected demand, we are accelerating our actions to curtail capacity and reduce costs. Separately, we are expanding our strategic portfolio review to include the evaluation of our Australia and New Zealand business. While our outlook for the year remains muted as reflected in our revised guidance, we anticipate these actions will enable us to stabilize the business and resume our long-term trend of improved performance and cash flow as well as further debt reduction in 2020.

An expected debt of $5.1 billion at the end of this year is the biggest worry considering the losses that are piling up. Management hopes that cost cuts are what the company needs

Now what

The adjusted earnings numbers look great, but the reality is that the business is deteriorating and margins are getting squeezed. That's not a good sign for any company. And with over $5 billion in debt, there's growing concern about the company's viability, which is why its market cap is just $1.4 billion. I wouldn't buy this falling knife because we may not have seen the bottom yet.