Shares of Costa Mesa-based Ceradyne Inc. plunged in early trading today after it reported a big drop in sales and profits for the first quarter.

Shares were down by more than 13%, trading around the $27 mark.

First-quarter profit for the technical-ceramics maker decreased 84% to $3.8 million from $23.6 million a year earlier. Sales for the period were $106.3 million, down 29% from $150.1 million.

Analysts had been expecting about $9 million in earnings and $120 million in sales for the quarter.

Ceradyne saw about $81 million worth of new orders last quarter. That compared with $232 million for the same period last year.

Chief Executive Joel Moskowitz attributed the quarterly performance primarily to “the unusually sharp decline in solar photovoltaic crucible shipments.” He said shipments were down 80% from a year earlier.

The declines came on “the significant over-capacity and excessive inventory build by our customers, the Chinese solar module manufacturers,” Moskowitz said.

Ceradyne also saw a delay in an expected U.S. government approval for shipping a large quantity of body armors, which pushed scheduled shipments into the second quarter, according to Moskowitz.

Ceradyne revised its annual guidance down to a sales range of $540 million to $565 million, from $590 million to $625 million. The company downshifted its expectation on profits to earnings of $1.40 to $1.65 per share, from a range of $2.30 to $2.65.