What happened 

Carvana (CVNA -3.45%) investors were heading for the hills today after the online car marketplace reported worse-than-expected third-quarter results.

Not only did it miss Wall Street's expectations for the quarter but management didn't exactly paint a rosy picture for the company going forward. As a result, its share price plunged 38.8% as of 1:18 p.m. ET.  

So what

Carvana's non-GAAP (adjusted) loss per share of $2.67 was a massive decrease from the company's loss of $0.38 in the year-ago quarter. It also was worse than analysts' average estimate of a loss of $1.94 per share.  

Cars in a parking lot.

Image source: Getty Images.

The company's top line wasn't much better. Carvana's total revenue of $3.39 billion in the quarter missed Wall Street's expectation of $3.7 billion and was down 3% from the year-ago quarter. 

Making matters worse was the fact that the company's retail units sold in the quarter declined 8% to 102,570 and its gross profit fell 31% to $359 million. 

Now what 

Carvana's management didn't exactly quell investors' fears with its comments, either. Management said in prepared remarks that it expects a slowdown in unit sales in the fourth quarter, as well as lower gross profit per unit (GPU).

"In Q4, we expect a sequential reduction in retail units sold and total GPU as the impacts of reduced used vehicle industry demand, increasing benchmark interest rates, higher used vehicle depreciation rates, and our profitability initiatives flow through," management said. 

The company also didn't provide any quantitative outlook for 2023. Carvana's leadership said that "in light of current industry and macroeconomic conditions" forecasting for the coming months and quarters is too difficult. 

The latest financial results, slowing growth, and lack of a clear outlook for Carvana's business caused investors to panic today.