What happened

Shares of energy-in-a-box company Bloom Energy (NYSE:BE) are tumbling today, down 30.3% as of 10:10 a.m. EDT -- and for once, this is a story that doesn't have (much) to do with the coronavirus scare. Instead, this is straight-up an earnings story.

Last night, Bloom reported its Q4 numbers, and instead of the more than $270 million that Wall Street analysts had predicted it would collect, Bloom's sales for the quarter were less than $214 million. Investors were disappointed, and Bloom stock is down as a result.  

Bloom Energy boxes at Yahoo HQ.

Image source: Bloom Energy.

So what

It gets worse.

While Bloom attempted to put a happy face on the news, emphasizing how fast its revenues grew in Q4 -- 36% year over year -- and how fast "acceptances" of its energy-producing devices grew as well -- up 50% -- investors focused instead on how fast the company will probably not grow in the current quarter.

Now what

Specifically, Bloom guided investors to expect Q1 2020 sales of only $140 million to $160 million. At the top of that range, Bloom looks likely to miss analysts' consensus sales target of $215 million by 26%; at the bottom of the range, by 35%.

Admittedly, this is still kind of a coronavirus story. I imagine that customer fears that our whole economy is slouching toward a recession may be depressing demand for Bloom's products. But whatever the reason, what Bloom had to say about guidance yesterday was not what investors wanted to hear.

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.