Image source: Stage Stores.

What: Shares of department store retailer Stage Stores (SSI) plummeted as much as 23.5% today and are down about 22% at the time of this writing. The stock's decline follows the company's worse-than-expected profit for its fourth quarter and weaker-than-expected guidance.

So what: On Thursday morning, Stage Stores reported fourth-quarter revenue and adjusted EPS of $502.6 million and $0.91, respectively. Revenue was higher than the consensus analyst estimate for the quarter, but EPS was lower. On average, analysts expected revenue and adjusted EPS of $501.5 million and $1.06, respectively.

Management noted earnings were pressured by higher-than-planned markdowns.

For fiscal 2016, Stage Stores management said it expected sales of $1.53 billion to $1.56 billion. On average, analysts forecasted sales of $1.57 billion during fiscal 2016. 

What now: Management noted in the company's earnings release that it expected "external headwinds to continue to impact the business," but that it believed its investments in omnichannel and store upgrades will position its business to deliver improved performance.