Should Infinera Go Metro?

So, what's next for Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN)?

The company's had a good year, with a successful IPO, a series of customer wins, and continued revenue increases -- although its math draws some serious questions. (See Reading Between the Lines at the Infinera Time Machine.)

But analysts say Infinera has plenty of opportunity still available -- or, depending on how you look at it, a big piece missing.

"Being only a long-haul player leaves a big hole. They need a metro product," says Heavy Reading analyst Sterling Perrin.

Infinera seems to already realize this. In a note published yesterday, analyst George Notter of Jefferies & Company Inc. writes that Infinera "is working on a metro product with expected delivery in 2009."

Infinera declined to comment.

Here's the problem: Infinera's DTN system is well suited for bandwidth wholesalers and long-haul backbones, since it offers densities of 100 Gbit/s per line card, in the form of 10 10-Gbit/s channels. (See Infinera Declares WDM War.) But for smaller deployments, that's overkill.

The consequences can be seen at Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT), Infinera's flagship customer. Level 3 deploys Infinera gear in places where it will need six or more wavelengths and uses ADVA Optical Networking in situations requiring less than six, Notter says.

A scaled-down DTN might be suitable for those small jobs, but it would also lose the density that gives Infinera its cost advantage. Moreover, the metro market is more sensitive to price than the long-haul market. "The question becomes, 'Can they drive down the cost of the DTN by redesigning the PIC [photonic integrated circuit] interface or the PIC chip?'" Notter tells Light Reading.

Another avenue that Infinera could take to address the metro market is through acquisition, analysts say. Many believe that Infinera's secondary offering announced last month -- which boosted its cash stash to $300 million -- was a way to shore up for a possible purchase. (See Infinera Aims to Raise $113M.)

One rumored target is ADVA, due to its place in the metro market and its large accounts in Europe. But it might make more sense for Infinera to acquire a company for its technology than for a product portfolio, says Mark Lutkowitz, an analyst at Telecom Pragmatics Inc.

"They wouldn't necessarily want to sell anyone else's products, but they might be able to acquire technology that they could integrate into their own system," Lutkowitz says.

"They're not going to buy another PIC company, because they're the only ones doing it. They could try and create a PIC for that product. That might be one way of going about it," says Ehud Gelblum, an analyst with JP.MorganChase . The problem is that it could take Infinera up to 18 months to integrate another company's technology into the PICs.

Whether a metro system is in Infinera's future or not, the company's got another notable vacancy: no Tier 1 carrier wins.

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Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 2:58:25 PM
re: Should Infinera Go Metro? Can anyone come up with good acquisition possibilities besides ADVA?

I guess there are newer, cheaper options -- I'll randomly toss out Matisse -- but you'd think Infinera at this point would want something with an established customer base.

Then again, maybe Infinera doesn't want/need that kind of integration headache. New technology that it could sell to existing customers, might be the way to go.

Not sure which way I'd lean here. Maybe they'll shock us all and buy something random, like wireless or storage.
OSXman 12/5/2012 | 2:58:25 PM
re: Should Infinera Go Metro? Well, I haven't heard the ADVA rumor, but INFN certainly has the currency.

INFN sells for 4.5x 2008 revenues and ADVA sells for abou .6x 2008 revenues. Could be an interesting idea...

Have you heard this for real or are you just making it up?
M00ner 12/5/2012 | 2:58:24 PM
re: Should Infinera Go Metro? Acquisition target...?
DNA-Lorrd 12/5/2012 | 2:58:24 PM
re: Should Infinera Go Metro? Infinera addresses a sweetspot namely 10x10Gb/s. Any capacity other than that their solution is sub optimal in terms of cost (other DWDM suppliers face the same issue). But it does not seem to be a vote of confidence for their PIC technology if they acquire a company to address metro and not use PIC.
Mostly Harmless 12/5/2012 | 2:58:24 PM
re: Should Infinera Go Metro? what? why aquisition?

infinera is a successful company, so why they aquire anyone? how many aquistion do you know that work??? cisco make 200 aquisition and maybe five are good. lucky they have money to throw away. look at alcatel lucent! disaster. sorry, i know there are some aquisition that work, but also there is always one number on the roulette wheel that win each time - its just you never have bet on that number :-)

and transmode is not a good choice because imagine californian compant trying to manage aquisiton of swedish company.

i dont own infinera stock but i would sell it if they announce to buy transmode, adva or any company outside even silicon valley.

if the aim is to increase market size then they have to develop themself. pic is unique technology capability. they have to find other application for pic and develop themself.
rahat.hussain 12/5/2012 | 2:58:23 PM
re: Should Infinera Go Metro? Infinera started as a high-tech, proprietary-PIC ocmpany, but if it wants to become a truly global multi-billion star of telecom (and sustain these valuations), it is time to give up on religion. i.e., who cares if the target company is in Mahwah, NJ or Stockholm, SE? Who cares if the technology they acquire has nothing to do with InP PICs? It is now time to grow the "business" side - where you exploit market opportunities independent of technology bigotry.

Whether this exec team can put aside its parochial thoughts and deliver commercially is the question. If they do, INFN is a long-term stable bet. If not, INFN will be a mere blip on the telecom's mini-bubble.

Mostly Harmless 12/5/2012 | 2:58:23 PM
re: Should Infinera Go Metro? hi odo,

i understand your points and agree overall.

but infinera has one product and one gimmick. this is integration of opical product onto one chip. very clever and very unique but how big can this market get?

like cisco. they did know routing and then they buy switch companys. routing and switching are the both sides of same coin. in market value thay are connected and same sales force can sell them. same channels take them to market. customer of switch can buy router, customer of router buy switch. everyone happy.

if infinera did buy wireless company like cragi said how will this fit? where is economyu of scale in business process for this combination? sure wireless backhaul feeds into optical but not at 10G. infinera switch is to big for connect to wireless.

what infinera will buy (or hopefully not buy i hope) must connect straight in their product today. that means they can sell it to each companys customer, same sales men sell it and same channels also.
litereading 12/5/2012 | 2:58:22 PM
re: Should Infinera Go Metro? They can't stand still - competitors will catch up to hem in technology and cost. They will need a new trick and they know it. Look how Ciena evolved while Sycamore did not.

Is Metro their new trick? What will they have that nobody else has? What can they do better, or cheaper?
bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 2:58:21 PM
re: Should Infinera Go Metro? Transmode and/or Turin Networks would be good acquisitions for the metro space.

Infinera has limited revenue and needs some metro access prodcuts to complement its core switching.
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