En Fuego!

Telecom equipment stocks rocketed upwards on Friday as earnings from Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) confirmed that telecom companies are making new investments in network upgrades.

Juniper, which last night blew past analyst revenue and profit estimates, rose $5.36 (23%) to $28.19 in morning trading (see Juniper Confidently Carries Q4). Other companies in the IP router space, such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7), followed suit. Cisco was up $1.03 to (3.8%) to $28.19; and Avici rose $2.32 (13.3%) to $19.73.

The Light Reading Index of important telecom equipment and components suppliers was up $8.06 (3.74%) to $223.43. The Index started the year at $188.86 and is already up 18 percent in 2004.

Several factors driving the buying interest include:
  • The broader markets have been going up and investors have been in a buying mood

  • Major carriers have recently announced plans to buy new equipment, especially for packet-based networks. And investors have been catching up to the packet convergence theme, outlined here by Geoff Bennett, chief technologist at Light Reading's independent research group, Heavy Reading, last September (see Incumbents Converge on Convergence).

  • Many shares in the telecom market have been the target of short-sellers, who borrow stock and sell it in the hopes that the price will go down. When short-sellers get caught in a rising market, they are often forced to buy shares to cover the ones they have sold short, further fueling the rise.

  • Investors have been speculating that the cycle in the telecom market has bottomed and carrier financial health will improve. Indeed, as spotted in December by Light Reading Insider, there's plenty of evidence that the capital spending cycle has bottomed (see Carrier Capex Set for 2004 Rebound and Packets Key to Capex Comeback). But the question of how much new spending carriers will do hangs on their ability to generate new revenue from services.
This sounds all good. But despite the animal spirits and optimism in the sector, some investment professionals are wary that the stocks are once again being bid up beyond reasonable valuations.

“They could probably go a lot higher but I would not be buying them here,” says Erik Weir, president and CEO of Weir Capital Management. “I think a lot of the reason they are going up is because people were short-selling them."

Weir points out that Juniper is valued at roughly 111 times this year’s earnings estimates.

"The problem is that it's rational and warranted in a small number of cases, but it's not rational and warranted across the board," said Steve Kamman, analyst with CIBC World Markets. "The concern this year is we're still looking at single-digit capex growth and single-digit enterprise IT growth, so it's going to be tough to make double-digit growth across the board."

In a report issued this morning, Kamman raised Juniper's 2004 revenue estimate to $903 million from $800 million and his 2004 EPS forecast to $0.33 from $0.24. For the rest of the year, he says it's likely that investment success will be based on a narrower group of winners capturing the capex dollars in new equipment upgrades.

"The difference between the bubble years and the recovery is they're now spending in a very focused manner, and you're either on board the right train or you're not," says Kamman.

The game will be won or lost based on whether 2004 earnings beat expectations. Earnings estimates in the group may have room for further upgrades from analysts who have fallen behind.

Prior to the earnings call, analyst consensus profit estimates for Juniper were $0.24 cents per share in 2004, according to Thomson Financial/Lancer Analytics. Today, following rising forecasts, analysts now see $0.26 cents in 2004, says Thomson.

But Weir thinks that’s a risky gamble.

”You either made it at the bottom or you didn’t” says Weir. “But it's no surprise to see some of them take estimates higher.”

— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

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Scott Raynovich 12/5/2012 | 2:40:27 AM
re: En Fuego! Hmm, funny how folks never show up for positive market stories. Wat's up Wid dat?
Scott Raynovich 12/5/2012 | 2:40:26 AM
re: En Fuego! Yes, quite the exuberant day.
rzerockzeron 12/5/2012 | 2:40:26 AM
re: En Fuego! ...too busy counting the ways on how to spend this newfound (virtual) cash.

fiber_r_us 12/5/2012 | 2:40:25 AM
re: En Fuego! Yeah! Just a few hundred more days like that, and I can be back in the black again!
newbee2002 12/5/2012 | 2:40:25 AM
re: En Fuego! Cheers!
jamesbond 12/5/2012 | 2:40:23 AM
re: En Fuego! Maybe they are busy selling jnpr stock before
it goes back to under 10.
bonnyman 12/5/2012 | 2:40:21 AM
re: En Fuego! Corning shares were up also today on good news from Standard & Poors that S&P was upgrading its' outlook on Corning from negative to stable.

Unfortunately, for us telecom folks, that was driven by Corning's other businesses, not fiber. Here's a quote from S&P out of the Wall Street Journal:

" Telecommunications industry customers are restraining capital spending, and recovery is not expected before 2005, although quarter-to-quarter trends are likely to be volatile. Prospects are brighter in the non-telecommunication business lines--the liquid crystal display (LCD) and environmental segments in particular. For example, in LCD flat-glass segment sales (televisions and monitors), which have grown for eight sequential quarters (7% in the third quarter), prices are declining, but growth rates and cost reductions have exceeded price declines. Corning has the No. 1 position in larger LCD panels, which require a disproportionately larger piece of glass than a smaller use. The company's environmental-focused businesses are tied to automotive production but should benefit from increasing regulatory requirements over time."

The Wall Street Journal link is:
but a paid subscription is required.

OptixCal 12/5/2012 | 2:40:20 AM
re: En Fuego! ...virtual cash? Hmmm, you get theat when you have a virtual job, I guess.
newbee2002 12/5/2012 | 2:40:14 AM
re: En Fuego! Sorry to hear that. I missed out almost entirely the bull market of the 90s, so didn't lose much, or any. Barely I had an opportunity to observe the market euphoria in early 2000, and it was fun :-)
BobbyMax 12/5/2012 | 2:40:12 AM
re: En Fuego! First of all a lot of people have lost money by investing in Cisco and Juniper. Some have lost their lifetime savings by investing in Lucent, Xerox, 3Com and thousands of other companies.

I believe the same hype is being created by analysts and company surrogates. Over 90% people who invested in networking and high-tech companies have lost all their investments. Cisco stock came down all the way down to $11 from a high of $66. Same is true of Juniper and Avici.

Capex would continue to decline at least for the next 6 years. All RBOCs are under huge debt. Most are mismanaged. Extrely high salaries and stock options are very common.

Strangely enough when the stock prices are quoted, they never mentioned how high/low it was four years ago. In other words, thereis no reference pointed. The WAll Street Analysts supress vital and useful information. Cisco, for example, was acquiring companies at an unprecedented for the sole purpose of enhancing the stock prices. Many other compoanies started doing the same thing. This and other reasons caused the market to collapse. The moral is dishonesty does not pay.

There is no evidence that Cisco,Juniper or Avici can sustain continous growth. It is surprising that we are experiencing the bubble again. The analysts and the greedy CEOs.
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