Why H&E Equipment Services Stock Dropped 12%

By Rich Smith Markets Fool.com

What happened

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Shares of industrial lift-equipment lessor H&E Equipment Services (NASDAQ: HEES) slid steeply in Thursday trading, closing the day down 12.4%.

So what

Since it's earnings season, you might suspect that an earnings report had something to do with investors' sudden decisions to abandon the stock -- and you'd be right.Thursday morning, H&E Equipment reported its fiscal Q1 2017 earnings, and the news was not great. Revenues declined 8% year over year, to $226.8 million, while profits of $0.15 per share were down by $0.01 in comparison with last year.

Nevertheless, H&E exceeded analyst expectations on earnings -- Wall Street had expected it to report only $0.14 per share. On revenues, however, the company fell short. Street estimates had called for $235.5 million in sales, and H&E didn't even get close to that.

Is it time to panic now? Image source: Getty Images.

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Now what

Management declined to give guidance on the rest of this year in its report, which may be another factor keeping buyers away from the stock, but here's what the analysts think: According to data from Yahoo! Finance, analysts following H&E stock expect the company will earn about $0.97 per share this year on sales of $973.2 million.

So far -- and admittedly this is very early in the game -- H&E seems to be on track to meet the sales estimate, at least, even if Q1 came in a bit light on that front. As far as earnings go, Q1 profits were only $0.01 below Q1 2016's profits, and last year, H&E earned well over $1 a share. If future quarters see only similarly slim dips in profit versus last year, H&E should be able to meet expectations for this year pretty handily.

In short, despite today's big drop, I don't think there's any need to panic just yet.

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Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.