Another quarter, another disappointing earnings report from aesthetic-laser maker Candela (NASDAQ:CLZR). Pity the poor shareholder. Oh, yeah, that still includes me. When will I ever learn?

Candela recorded a loss of $727,000 for the fourth quarter, or $0.03 per share, miserably missing analyst expectations of a $0.06-per-share profit and woefully coming in well below last year's $0.10-per-share performance. And if we remember our history, we'll recall that last year was even more dismal than the year before -- by about half!

Yet once again, in the world of CEO Gerard Puorro, all is looking good. It seems the company missed showing a profit this time around only because $4.7 million of its new GentleMax lasers did not ship by the end of the quarter, the second quarter in a row it has had to delay shipments. Though they've shipped now, Puorro's assurances that Candela will return to profitability in the first quarter of 2008 are based only on getting that backlog booked then -- which, to my calculations, suggests that the first quarter will be pretty dismal otherwise.

Once again returning to the history books, we see that Candela pulled an "October surprise" last year, a one-time blip in growth that it has yet to repeat. First-quarter sales will be going up against tough comparisons that I highly doubt it will be able to beat.

Puorro also reported that the company lost market share, down to 21% from 25% at the same time last year, but promised that the company would be in the markets tomorrow buying up its greatly depressed stock. The board has authorized a buyback of 2.3 million shares, but even at a share price that is down more than 33% this year, if it bought all of those shares (about 10% of its outstanding capital stock), it would take a huge swath of its available cash -- about two-thirds of it. That seems highly unlikely.

So shareholders can't look to management to prop up the share price with buybacks, they are probably looking at reduced sales, and they are facing growing legal costs for the patent infringement lawsuits with Palomar Medical Technologies (NASDAQ:PMTI).  Puorro says the costs are "large." So what is an investor to do?

One might be tempted to say that, with the stock priced at around $8 a stub, all of the negative news is priced in already. But is it? Candela reported that the Markman hearing in the Palomar case was held recently but had no further news on it. If a ruling goes against Candela, you would see this stock plummet, though a favorable decision doesn't do much more than allow the case to go forward. We'll be facing tough comparables next quarter and a continued drain on the bank account from recent acquisitions.

While every stock can be considered a good value at some price, I don't see Candela as having reached that point yet.

Home in on these related Foolish articles:

Want to find the best small caps before the market notices their greatness? Let Motley Fool Hidden Gems lend a hand. You can see our recommendations with a free, 30-day trial subscription.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Candela but does not have a financial position in any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.