Cardinal Health ( CAH) has fallen ill. News of a profit shortfall and an expanding government probe sent the stock skidding 24% on Thursday. The health care company warned late Wednesday that both current results and future profits will fall shy of expectations. It also announced that it had received a subpoena -- some 10 days ago -- from the Securities and Exchange Commission requesting new information about the company's revenue classification. In addition, the company said that the U.S. attorney's office in New York has now joined in the formal SEC probe that it disclosed last month. Still, analysts seemed more troubled by the company's profit warning than anything else. Raymond Falci of Bear Stearns did raise concerns that the SEC subpoena may have been driven by "a real or perceived sense of lack of cooperation on CAH's behalf." But he focused primarily on the company's profit slowdown -- which is expected to continue through next year -- when cutting his recommendation on the stock to peer perform. Cardinal expects to post fourth-quarter profits of between 93 cents and 95 cents a share -- as much as 10 cents shy of the consensus estimate -- because of an unexpected drag in two of its core businesses. The company also projected next year's profit growth at around 10% instead of the "midteens or better" it had hoped for. Like Falci, Jefferies analyst David Francis promptly cut his recommendation on Cardinal's stock upon hearing the dismal news. "We are not fans of downgrading stocks simply on the basis of missed earnings," said Francis, who now has a hold rating on Cardinal's shares. "However, the confusing nature of CAH's rationale behind the company's disappointing 4Q04 June performance -- and the outlook for subpar earnings growth in FY2005 -- creates a head-scratcher for investors. ... This management team, which had been battling back strongly from a perceived credibility gap since questions about the company's accounting practices surfaced two years ago, will go back under a very hot and bright light again."