Say it isn't so, Audible (NASDAQ:ADBL). Its shares shed 11% of their value Tuesday night after the company, the leader in the digital delivery of the spoken word, warned that it would be posting a loss for 2005. Back in November, Audible was projecting a profit for the year.

The company now expects to report December quarter revenues of $17 million to $19 million. It had originally guided investors to expect the top line to grow to as much as $20 million.

On the surface, it will be a pretty good year for Audible: It's to grow revenues by at least 80% over 2004. The company faults the final quarter's collapsed profit margins on higher marketing and operating costs as well as a delayed site makeover. No, it's not pretty, but the sudden drop in Audible's share price may present an opportunity for the patient investor.

That's because the books-on-tape specialist is carving out a pretty unique market in a cookie-cutter world of digital audio. Early on, the company partnered with (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL). Brilliant moves on both fronts, because making friends out of the two companies that would be its most likely competitors is huge. That can always change, but for now it's a great move.

Even Rule Breakers pick XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR) -- another potential competitor given its breadth of streamed audio content -- became an Audible partner when the two teamed up to develop a handheld device that can play XM channels while housing Audible audio content.

Now, my faith in Audible as a turnaround isn't likely to stretch beyond its March quarter's report. That's because the delayed site has already launched, and if the company doesn't make the appropriate moves to keep its costs in check here in the current period, another letdown would simply mean that Audible is grasping for excuses. I don't see it that way. For now, I don't hear it that way, either.

Many were introduced to Audible in the October 2003 issue of Motley Fool Hidden Gems , when it was put on Tom Gardner's watch list as a promising $70 million company. Audible is a $270 million company today.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz did not make a vocal recording of this article and does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. is a Stock Advisor recommendation.The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.