What: Shares of ARRIS International plc (NASDAQ:ARRS) were down 14.6% as of 11:30 a.m. Thursday after the telecommunications equipment company announced mixed preliminary fourth-quarter 2015 results, and disappointing forward guidance.

So what: Quarterly revenue fell 12.8% year over year to $1.102 billion. That translated to an 8% decline in adjusted net income to $93.5 million, and a 20.5% decline in adjusted net income per diluted share to $0.62. Based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), net income per diluted share fell 84.5% to $0.20. Note both bottom-line figures include a $0.14-per-share benefit related to R&D tax credits.

Analysts, on average were anticipating lower adjusted earnings of $0.47 per share, but higher revenue of $1.13 billion.

"Our fourth quarter sales were in line with our expectations," elaborated ARRIS CEO Box Stanzione, "and our earnings were stronger than anticipated as a result of stronger CCAP E6000 sales, as well as the full year impact of R&D tax credits enacted by Congress late in the year. We closed the Pace acquisition on January 4 and have made substantial progress on our integration activities."

Now what: For the current quarter, ARRIS anticipates revenue in the range of $1.56 billion to $1.61 billion, with adjusted net income per diluted share of $0.37 to $0.42, and GAAP net income per share of $0.01 to $0.06. Wall Street, for its part, was predicting significantly higher first-quarter adjusted net income of $0.58 per share on revenue of $1.68 billion.

That's not to say ARRIS looked particularly expensive going into today's report; shares currently trade for just 12.2 times trailing-12-month earnings, and only 5.7 times this year's estimates. At the same time, investors should expect to see analysts ratchet down those estimates as they digest the implications of ARRIS' current weakness. It should be relatively unsurprising, then, that ARRIS' board also approved a new $300 million share repurchase authorization two days ago to replace its existing programs. 

Nonetheless, I'm content watching ARRIS' progress as it continues to integrate its acquisition of Pace, which appeared to present significant synergies and offer promising new growth opportunities when it was initially announced almost a year ago. Until ARRIS can demonstrate its ability to spur its falling sales and find that growth, however, I suspect the stock will remain under pressure.

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.