Shares of

SafeNet

(SFNT)

plunged after the company issued a profit warning on Thursday, indicating that it would badly miss its first-quarter targets.

The stock dropped $20.94, or 62.7%, to $12.44 in recent

Nasdaq

trading, following the company's disclosure that it expects to earn 2 cents to 4 cents a share for the first quarter. Six analysts polled by

Thomson Financial/First Call

are calling for the company to earn 22 cents in the quarter, compared with a profit of 3 cents in the year-ago period.

In January, the company said it expected to earn 21 cents to 24 cents in the first quarter and 95 cents to $1.05 for the full year. At the time, SafeNet said it expected revenue for the first quarter of between $9 million and $9.2 million.

The company, a developer of Internet virtual private network technology, also lowered its top-line forecast, saying revenue should be $6 million in the first quarter. SafeNet attributed the shortfall to order cancellations and reduced expectations from original equipment manufacturer customers. Revenue totaled $5.8 million in the same period last year.

"Under these changing economic conditions, we are adjusting our business plans to ensure a continued string of profitable quarters," the company said in a statement.