Small-engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton (NYSE:BGG) had its stock mowed down by more than 12% yesterday when it reported third-quarter revenues and earnings that missed not only analyst expectations, but its own estimates as well. Spring-cleaning tools like mowers and power washers weren't flying off the shelves because of the late start of spring, the company said, and sales came in 5% below last year at $880.2 million.

Profits were turned to mulch as well at $60 million, or $1.16 a share. That was well below the $1.29 analysts had expected the outdoor-equipment manufacturer to generate, but it was also 9% below the company's own expectations. Last year, Briggs & Stratton had earned $80 million, but that included a nearly $20 million gain from the purchase of bankrupt lawn mower maker Murray, which had stiffed Briggs for $40 million. Through the bankruptcy courts, it was able to acquire almost all of the defunct company's assets and inventory for $125 million.

Sales of Murray products accounted for a drop of $44.4 million in net sales, which led to an 11% decline overall in power equipment. Engines were also off by about 1% from the year-ago period, while generators were the one bright spot. Thanks to higher demand in anticipation of the devastating hurricanes that hit last year, generator sales grew 21% year over year.

Even so, that means profits were flat from year to year, and the company isn't forecasting anything better for the rest of the year either. With retailers like Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) maintaining tighter control over their inventories, management believes it's possible they won't order more product for the rest of the year, reasoning that the season is over.

As a result, Briggs & Stratton lowered its full-year earnings forecast to $132 million to $135 million, or $2.56 to $2.62 per share, down from previous estimates of as much as $2.87 per stub.

Part of the company's problem is higher raw-materials costs, everything from oil to copper and aluminum, which put a leak on margins; net margins were down by 200 basis points for the quarter. It's tried to impose across-the-board price increases for its products, and while some of the gains it realized reflect those increases, the overall drop in sales hurt too much.

At least one hedge fund manager thinks Briggs & Stratton ought to consider putting itself up on the auction block. A larger rival like Ingersoll-Rand (NYSE:IR), for example, or even a smaller competitor like Tecumseh (NASDAQ:TECUA), might be interested in Briggs' small engines, which have a dominant market share and high name recognition. Management, though, believes that expanding the product line is a better alternative for building shareholder value, while also moving production to lower-cost countries like China.

These are not short-term solutions, and that should hearten investors to a certain extent. But investors also shouldn't expect to see this engine maker snorting to life any time soon.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Wal-Mart but does not own any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here . The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .