Foster Wheeler Shares Plunged: What You Need to Know

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of global contractor Foster Wheeler (NAS: FWLT) were feeling the market's wrecking ball today as shares fell as much as 11% in intraday trading in reaction to the company's third-quarter earnings release.

So what: During earnings season, there's a very simple recipe for a company to get its stock to fall: Report earnings that are short of expectations.

For its third quarter, Foster Wheeler's revenue climbed 25% from last year, but the $1.13 billion was short of the $1.25 billion that analysts had estimated. On the bottom line, earnings per share fell from $0.41 last year to $0.31, also missing Wall Street's target. Profitability was down in both of the company's operating groups versus last year and -- for the Global Power Group -- also against the quarterly average for 2011.

Now what: Management stayed upbeat about the company's performance, noting "strong revenues" and "good operating performance." The company is also sticking to its EBITDA margin guidance for the full year -- that is, 13% to 15% for the Global Engineering and Construction group and 17% to 19% for the Global Power Group. Of course, in looking ahead it's also worth noting that while third-quarter revenue was particularly strong in both groups, new orders booked was relatively weak, particularly in the Global Power Group.

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At the time this article was published Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.Fool contributorMatt Koppenhefferhas nofinancial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting hisCAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter,@KoppTheFool, or onFacebook. The Fool'sdisclosure policyprefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.

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