Analysts Appear Cautious About Growth Rate at Juniper Networks

By Ed Silverstein June 14, 2012

Juniper Networks may be trying to present itself as a technology innovator, but industry analysts are expressing caution about the company’s future growth over the next few years, according to media reports.

The recent news on the company comes as the networking sector may start to see a period of “softening growth,” with companies such as Juniper Networks and Cisco Systems predicting a slower rate of expansion in the coming years, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

On Tuesday, Juniper lowered its projected revenue growth to between 9 and 12 percent for between 2013 and 2016. That is a significant drop from earlier projections of as much as 20 percent.

The reasons for the pared-down projections come from global economic conditions which may result in less IT spending. There is also an increase in competition from rivals. Smaller companies, such as Palo Alto Networks, a firewall provider, is an example of the kind of competitors that Juniper faces.

In looking at the new revenue projections, BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Long said even they will be “challenging.” Juniper was able to increase its share in the switching market but lost market share in many other areas, he added.

“We continue to see downside risk to revenue growth – based on caution on routing market growth and market share headwinds,” Nomura Securities analyst Stuart Jeffrey was quoted by The StreetInsider about Juniper. "New targets remain above our current estimates for FY13 and FY14. We believe that many investors will continue to see targets as optimistic, raising the risk of further cuts to targets in the next year or two.”

Juniper Networks tried to offer a positive light during an analysts conference held earlier this week which promoted product strength and innovation – among other attributes.

A year ago, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Sanjiv Wadhwani told clients in a note that Juniper had a "slow start" for the quarter ending in June 2011 “both on the service provider and enterprise side."

“All products are weak," except the company's MX edge routers, he said at the time.

MarketWatch reported that last year’s challenges faced by Juniper were being in part blamed on the earthquake in Japan. Juniper's earnings dropped as a result of lower demand since at least last June, WSJ reported.

This week, Juniper announced a new stock repurchase program which will let the company buy up to $1 billion of its common stock, according to a report on TechZone360. An earlier $1-billion stock repurchase program was approved in 2010. As of March 31, there was about $162.2 million of remaining funds available from the 2010 stock repurchase fund.

The company also announced on Thursday that it will partner with the US Ignite initiative. Juniper Networks will also be appointed to the US Ignite Board and will help develop a strategy for the public-private initiative. US Ignite will focus on 60 applications related to ultra-fast networks over the next five years. They involve different sectors such as education, workforce development, advanced manufacturing, health IT, transportation, public safety and clean energy.

"Network advances are opening up a world of new possibilities, and US Ignite will serve to mobilize innovation that takes full advantage of increased capabilities, bandwidth and speed,” said Stefan Dyckerhoff, executive vice president, Platform Systems Division, Juniper Networks. “Juniper is excited about its role in helping drive long-term strategy and program direction for US Ignite, with the end goal of fostering collaboration between industries.”

Edited by Braden Becker

TechZone360 Contributor

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