Light Reading

Infinera Shifts Up a Gear

Ray Le Maistre

SAN FRANCISCO -- OFC 2014 -- After years of showing significant promise, it looks like 2014 and beyond might be something of a golden era for transport equipment vendor Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN).

Why? I'm basing that opinion on a combination of evidence, third-party opinion, and gut feel.

And, perhaps ironically, it comes on the back of what might seem like a major setback for the company, as it recently missed out on a transport equipment tender at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). (See Analyst: Infinera Loses VZ Deal to AlcaLu.)

Word on the show floor here at OFC, though (and not, I should say, from anyone at Infinera), is that the Verizon deal was not as lucrative as many might have thought, although that is just conjecture.

The thing is, Infinera is doing pretty well without that deal, and it looks like the company's financial health might be on course to improve.

CEO Tom Fallon, who is known for being cautious when talking about Infinera's business potential, noted during the company's most recent earnings call that he was confident of picking up new deals, including business from new Tier 1s, this year. (See Infinera: We're Fine, Thanks… and Windstream Taps Infinera for National Buildout.)

Those financials, announced in late January, gave the vendor's share price a lift, sending it north of $9.00 on January 30.

The stock got another boost this week when Goldman Sachs upgraded Infinera to a "buy" rating, sending the stock up by almost 15% Wednesday to $9.71.

And while it dipped again during Thursday trading, an after-hours surge took Infinera's share price back to the $9.71 mark.

Other analyst firms here at OFC, including Jefferies & Co. Inc. and MKM Partners , have also reported positively on the vendor's prospects, and overall analyst consensus is that the company will increase its annual revenues to more than $613 million this year from $544 million in 2013, a rate of nearly 13% (if the forecasts are accurate).

And then there's the metro market. Infinera, which has a reputation for developing systems that are easy to deploy and enable fast service provisioning, has long talked about how it might develop a photonic integrated chip (PIC) for a metro platform. Now that time has nearly come: The company has now developed a PIC for the metro, Senior Director of Corporate Marketing Mark Showalter told me here this week, though exact plans for a metro product, and the timing around the launch of such a product, have not been announced.

That product, which some here have dubbed the DTN-M, looks set to be a significant addition to the metro transport systems market, which the optical sector expects to take off this year and hit its stride in 2015 as demand for network capacity continues to grow, driven by intra-data center traffic, video, and consumer fixed/mobile broadband usage.

In his recent report, The Rise of 100G & Terabit Transport Networks, Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Sterling Perrin notes that the market for 100G metro systems is set to grow from about $400 million this year to more than $2.1 billion in 2018.

The metro market is highly competitive. But if Infinera can take the best features of its PIC and build an affordable system that retains the company's core customer-friendly strengths (ease of use and speedy provisioning), it stands a very good chance of grabbing a healthy slice of that fast-growing metro 100G sector.

I wouldn't bet against it.

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
3/15/2014 | 10:31:39 AM
Re: check your survey on the right side of the page
"In the future when we enable metro-reach super-channels using PM-16-QAM, they will support 24 Terabit-per-second per fibre pair using the line system we are announcing," says Geoff Bennett, director, solutions and technology at Infinera.
Liz Greenberg
Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/14/2014 | 6:44:22 PM
Re: And From the Cubicles
So @mendykI see that you have no strong opinion on glassdoor!  Just joking, but it is an important reminder to make sure that we all watch who we use as our sources of information in this "information age".
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/14/2014 | 2:50:08 PM
Re: And From the Cubicles
I would trust nothing posted on Glassdoor, pro or con. It's a garbage heap of a site.
Jessie Morrow
Jessie Morrow,
User Rank: Lightning
3/14/2014 | 2:30:33 PM
Re: And From the Cubicles
mendyk - a perusal of the Infinera comments on Glassdoor if anything tilt towards  the positive. My apologies for including a negative comment in my first post, here is something to restore a modicum of fairness and balance;

"Great place for cutting edge technology and reasonable management"
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/14/2014 | 2:08:00 PM
Re: And From the Cubicles
Jessie -- You should know that Glassdoor is mainly used by disgruntled employees (or former employees) to trash companies anonymously. Using it to judge the quality of a company is absurd.
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/14/2014 | 12:49:16 PM
check your survey on the right side of the page
Only 1 company 1tbit capable and soon 10tbit capable and more then half respondents believe that is the future
Jessie Morrow
Jessie Morrow,
User Rank: Lightning
3/14/2014 | 12:29:21 PM
And From the Cubicles
And  on the rarely heard employee side of the roster are many pro and con opinions of Infinera, 

A recent gripe: "  Limited scope for growth; consistently low stock price; lack of clear direction in roadmap; only few research and development opportunities."
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