It happens to every company sooner or later: Wall Street sets a mark for quarterly earnings, and the company misses that goal. Sometimes an earnings stumble is a signal to sell, but digging in the dirt is also a good way to find turnaround candidates while they're getting beaten down. Today, we'll see that the house doesn't always win big, that there might be a few empty cubicles down the next row, and that this keg here needs a refill.

Our first financial faux pas this week is brought to you by Sands Regent (NASDAQ:SNDS). The Reno, Nev., hotel and casino operator reported GAAP earnings per diluted share of one measly penny, far below the average EPS expectation of $0.11. It did so on $21 million gross sales, up 14% over the year-ago period, and slightly above a $20.6 million forecast.

But more importantly, the company did in fact report earnings, and also supplied some numbers for the previous two quarters in the hope that the minimum listing requirements of the Nasdaq Capital Market would be met again. Sands Regent has been under a delisting threat due to late earnings reports, and management should be relieved that this particular Sword of Damocles is no longer hanging over it.

The financial audit process cut into this quarter's earnings to the tune of about $0.03 per share, and costs associated with a recently announced merger took out another penny and a half. Even with those costs explained away and in a traditionally slow quarter for tourist attraction operators, this quarter was still a disappointment.

Sands Regent has grown mostly through acquisitions over the last year but is now working on expanding several of its existing resorts. All of that -- including any delisting threats -- might not matter to today's shareholders in the end, though.

The merger I just mentioned will, if approved by the shareholders, take Sands Regent off the market as it is being acquired by privately held HerbstGaming for $15 per share. That vote is by no means guaranteed to pass, and an investor group has filed a class-action lawsuit against management for not realizing the full value of the company. Ante up, gentlemen -- Sands might be going all in.

Next up on our scorecard is office furniture maker Steelcase (NYSE:SCS), which delivered $0.12 per share of GAAP earnings this quarter on $727 million of revenue. That's 7.6% higher sales year over year and almost triple the net profit on the same basis, and well within the company's own guidance of $0.10 to $0.15 per share and between 7% and 11% higher sales. But the analyst community had hoped for some extra juice, like 9% sales improvement and $0.15 of EPS. You can't always please everybody.

For a mature company with a $2.5 billion market cap, and toiling in a rather unexciting industry, Steelcase is quite volatile. The stock price hit a low of $13.44 last October, then climbed 43% higher to $19.29, and has since dropped back 15% from that lofty perch to a Friday closing price of $16.45. Competitors like Herman Miller (NASDAQ:MLHR) and HNI aren't showing anything like those mood swings, and Steelcase has been closer to Google in that respect.

As a couple of my fellow Fools have already noted, Steelcase seems to swing the same way that overall North American employment statistics do, and an economic downturn would most likely be bad news for this company. But then, it's bad news for many other companies too. If you believe the economy still has a ways to go before new hires stop flowing in, the recent price drop could make a decent entry point in this cubicle equipment specialist. Vice versa, if you think we're about to step off the job market cliff, you'd do best to stay away from Steelcase.

Let's finish today's whirlwind tour of the market's soft, white underbelly with a stiff drink. Beer, wine, and liquor maker Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ) just barely made our list as its $0.31 of quarterly earnings per share almost hit the $0.32 analyst target, a discrepancy easily explained by -- take your pick -- exchange rate fluctuations, merger and acquisition costs, loss of divested businesses, or a canceled kegger or two on some unknown college campus.

Either way, it seems like the analysts have a decent handle on the producer of Arbor Mist wines and Corona beers. That makes its low trading multiples compared with Diageo (NYSE:DEO) and Fortune Brands (NYSE:FO) a bit puzzling -- either those two worthy adversaries are overpriced today (especially Diageo in that case), or Constellation is selling at flea market prices. I'd have some more due diligence to perform before reaching a verdict here, but in the meantime I suggest you do your own if the eternal cash machine of beer and booze fits your investing strategies.

Some of these underperformers are victims of larger circumstances, while others might have only themselves to blame. It's up to you to decide which down-on-their-luck companies should be able to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, and which really are stuck in the mud. Come back next Monday, and we'll take a look at another batch of mishaps and disappointments. It'll be fun and educational. Promise.

Further Foolish reading:

  • Learn to separate the downbeat champions from the also-rans.
  • Read up on delisting rules.
  • Fellow Fool Stephen D. Simpson is thinking about Steelcase, too.

Seeking great deals on unfairly punished stocks? Philip Durell and his merry band of Fools at the Motley Fool Inside Value newsletter service are standing by to help you find great stocks at ridiculously low markdowns. Try a 30-day trial subscription to see whether bargain-hunting is right for you.

Diageo is an Income Investor selection.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns no stock in the companies discussed this week. Texas Hold 'Em poker looks like great fun, if you're just playing for plastic chips. We raise a tankard for Foolish disclosure rules.