The following video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series, in which we talk about topics around the investing world. This time, Tim Beyers of Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Supernova talks about the one number that stands out in Riverbed Technology's (NYSE: RVBD) troubling first-quarter earnings report.

Revenue came in $3 million lighter than expected as earnings met estimates. More importantly, management guided to just $0.21 to $0.22 in second-quarter profit on $193 million to $197 million in revenue. Analysts were expecting $0.24 and $202 million, respectively. Seven firms followed with downgrades, Barron's reports, and the stock promptly fell 28% as a result.

A strong report from peer F5 Networks (Nasdaq: FFIV) refutes fears that Riverbed's problems are common to the industry. Rather, the company is in the midst of introducing a new, more advanced product lineup to diversify its revenue base and better compete with rivals that possess entire portfolios of network-enhancing products, such as Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO).

Riverbed has historically specialized in WAN optimization, using its "deduplication" technology to strip away excess when sending data across a geographically dispersed network and increasing speed and efficiency in the process. Customers love the idea. Will they like Riverbed's newest efforts as much? One metric will tell the story.

Although we always invest for the long term at the Fool, companies have a lot riding each time they report earnings. Earnings season can propel your favorite stocks to new heights or sink them like the Titanic. Fortunately, the Fool recently identified five stocks we think are poised to win as they report their first-quarter earnings this month -- and for years into the future as well: "5 Stocks Investors Need to Watch This Earnings Season." The report won't be available forever, so we invite you to enjoy a free copy today. You can click here to access your report -- it's totally free.