Shareholders of Manugistics (NASDAQ:MANU) were rudely welcomed back from the holiday weekend when the provider of supply chain management software announced early today that preliminary results from the first quarter ended May 31 will fall far short of expectations. The company was anticipating a swing to profitability, but will instead likely post losses of $0.09 to $0.10 per share or, excluding certain expenses, a loss of $0.06-$0.07 on a pro-forma basis.

Management attributed the shortfall to unexpected delays in software purchasing. Software sales, which account for roughly 20% of total revenues, are now forecast to fall within a tight range of $10.5 million to $11 million, versus $19.9 million in the prior year's first quarter. Other revenue components, such as service and support, are projected to be in line or slightly ahead of estimates. Total revenues, which were already expected to fall from $65.6 million to $58.2 million, will actually be closer to $51 million to $52 million.

The Rockville, Md.- based company is a leading provider of software to support supply chain management, which coordinates activities such as product manufacturing, transportation, and distribution, and helps automate inventory management. The firm also supplies demand chain software, which is helpful with pricing and promotional decisions. The bulk of Manugistics' 1,200 customers are in the retail industry, and include companies such as Circuit City (NYSE:CC), Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HDI), and RadioShack (NYSE:RSH).

Though final first-quarter tallies won't be released until later this month, today's announcement validates a string of analyst downgrades suffered by Manugistics within the past 60 days. Still, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel: The company has had success at winning business from new clients, cash flow from operations reached a three-year high last quarter, and the average selling price of significant (over $100,000) software transactions has ticked up from $654,000 to $700,000.

Today's preliminary press release sent shares of Manugistics reeling over 7% to within a few cents of its 52-week low. If there's any truth to management's assertion that software revenues have fallen simply from delayed purchasing, rather than lost market share, then bold investors who believe better times lie ahead may find the strong reaction to their advantage.

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Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter owns none of the companies mentioned.