What happened

The stock of restaurant food delivery company Waitr Holdings (WTRH -1.12%) had tumbled 11.7% at 10:45 a.m. EST on Tuesday after it missed on earnings in its fourth-quarter report.

Expected to earn $0.04 per share on $51.4 million in sales last quarter, Waitr reported Monday night after close of trading that its earnings were only $0.02 per share, and its sales only $46.8 million.  

Simple red arrow declining stock chart on a white checked background

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

But sales grew 6.6% to $204.3 million for the year as a whole and were up 8.6% year over year for the fourth quarter. And even if earnings were not quite as robust as analysts had hoped to see, they were at least positive, versus last year's fourth-quarter loss of $0.28 per shares.

Similarly, Waitr earned $0.15 per share for the year, versus a $4-per-share loss for all of 2019. Indeed, management says it posted 11 straight months of profitability and positive operating cash flow in 2020.  

Now what

Management did not give clear guidance for 2021. Even so, it ended on a sort of ominous note, saying that: "adverse weather conditions impacted certain of the markets we operate in ... during the fourth quarter of 2020 and in early 2021."

This may have been an attempt to explain the fourth-quarter earnings miss. But if adverse weather stretched into the first quarter of 2021, the company might be laying the groundwork to explain why its next set of earnings results could also underwhelm investors.

While it's still early in this ballgame, if Waitr ends up missing earnings again in this year's first quarter, remember: You were warned.