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Juniper Stays Cautious After Q2

The stabilizing of business that Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) saw last quarter wasn't a mirage, CEO Kevin Johnson said on today's earnings call.

Even so, Juniper shares were down $1.75 (6.6%) at $24.79 each in after-hours trading. Maybe investors were hoping Juniper would blow past estimates the way Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) did earlier this month.

In fact, CEO Kevin Johnson kept everything cautious during today's earnings call, and Juniper kept its forecasts conservative, saying revenues would stay flat through its third quarter.

Here's the good news: During Juniper's second quarter, which ended June 30, the order volume was "not as backend loaded as it was last quarter," Johnson said -- meaning orders didn't all pour in at the last minute as customers figured out their budgets. That, he said, is a sign of further stabilization.

Johnson had noted in April that service providers' buying patterns were starting to return to normal. (See Juniper Sees Q1 Stabilize.)

Second-quarter revenues -- while 11 percent less than a year ago -- topped Juniper's own prediction, which ranged from $740 million to $780 million.

Table 1: Juniper's Q2
Q2'08 Q2'09 Change (%)
Revenues ($M) 879.0 786.3 -11%
Net Income ($M) 156.6 14.8 -91%
EPS ($) 0.22 0.03 -86%
Share Price ($) 22.57 26.55 +18%
Source: Juniper, Thomson Reuters


In earnings per share, Juniper beat analysts' estimates by a penny.

Table 2: Juniper vs. Analysts
Analysts' Consensus
Estimate, Q2'09
Actual Q2'09
Revenues ($M) 767.3 786.3
EPS, non-GAAP ($) 0.18 0.19
Net Income, non-GAAP ($M) 94.5 103.8
Source: Juniper, Thomson Reuters




For the third quarter, which ends in September, Juniper predicted revenues will be $770 million to $805 million -- about even with the second quarter, despite the happy talk about stabilization. (According to Thomson Reuters , analysts were expecting third-quarter revenues of around $790 million.)

Johnson said Juniper doesn't dare predict an upturn in the next quarter because orders are still unpredictable.

On the enterprise side, Juniper grew 12 percent compared with the previous quarter. For many enterprises, spending is still on hold, but because Juniper's gear is new, the company is able to get into some enterprise sales anyway. "We can outgrow the IT spend recovery in the enterprise, and there's perhaps more variability than what would happen in the service provider side," Johnson said.

But Juniper is staying cautious and is still obsessing about keeping its costs down. (See Juniper Tightens Its Belt.) Johnson pledged Juniper will remain "agile" -- seemingly suggesting he'll cut more costs if necessary -- but later added that the company will keep enough cash to be able to expand the business as necessary.

"We're clear that our primary value creation activity is through organic R&D, but we will consider targeted M&A where it makes sense -- makes financial sense and strategic sense," Johnson said later on the call.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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