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Juniper (JNPR) Q1 Earnings Lag; Stock Up on Strong Q2 View

Juniper Networks Inc. JNPR reported dismal first-quarter 2016 results wherein its top and bottom line lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Despite this, shares of this leading provider of networking solutions and communication devices gained 3.5% in yesterday’s after-hour trade on its encouraging second-quarter guidance.

Apart from this, the company’s revenues and earnings marked year-over-year improvement, which signifies its strength in the wake of the current uncertain global macro scenario and weak investment environment.

Juniper’s adjusted earnings per share of 25 cents came below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 29 cents. However, it increased 13.6% from the year-ago quarter figure of 22 cents. On a GAAP basis, earnings came in at 23 cents as against 19 cents reported a year ago, mainly backed by higher revenues and lower share count.

Quarter in Detail

Juniper’s revenues of $1.098 billion missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.129 billion and lagged its own expectation of $1.170 billion (+/- $20 million).  However, revenues increased 2.9% year over year mainly driven by higher demand from, telecom, Cloud and Cable service providers.

On a year-over-year basis, product revenues (69% of fourth-quarter revenues) went down 1.5% year over year to $753 million. On the other hand, services revenues (31%) increased 13.7%.

The networking solutions provider witnessed year-over-year revenue growth in the Switching product category which increased 5.4% to $175.5 million. However, its Routing category’s revenues remained almost flat year over year at $504.1 million while Security declined 20.9% to $73.4 million.

Geographically, the company registered improved business across every region, except EMEA. On a year-over-year basis, revenues from the Americas and Asia Pacific were up 6.7% and 5.6%, respectively, while revenues from EMEA declined 6.1%.

Juniper’s gross margin expanded 130 basis points (bps) year over year to 62.9% from 61.6%, primarily because of favorable product and geography mix. Moreover, adjusted (excluding one-time items but including stock-based compensation) operating margin increased from 13.9% a year ago to 14.2%, primarily driven by increased gross margin which was partially offset by higher operating expenses as a percentage of revenues.

Balance Sheet

Juniper exited the quarter with total cash, cash equivalents and investments of $2.25 billion compared with $1.95 billion at the end of the previous quarter. Long-term debt totaled $1.65 billion.

During the first quarter, Juniper generated cash flow of $172.4 million from operating activities compared with $219.3 million in the year-ago quarter. Moreover, the company paid $38.3 million as dividend and repurchased $83.4 million stocks in the quarter. Additionally, the company declared a quarterly cash dividend of 10 cents per share, payable on Jun 22 to the shareholders of record as on Jun 1.

Guidance

Juniper’s revenue outlook for the second quarter is encouraging. The company expects second-quarter revenues at around $1.190 billion (+/- $30 million), which is close to the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.204 billion.

Non-GAAP gross margin is projected at around 64% (+/- 0.5%). The company expects non-GAAP operating expenses at $500 million (+/- $5 million), and non-GAAP operating margin of 22%.

Non-GAAP earnings per share are expected to range within 44 cents to 50 cents (mid-point 47 cents), much higher than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 39 cents.

Our Take

Though the company’s revenues and earnings missed the respective Zacks Consensus Estimate, we are encouraged by the year-over-year improvements registered on both the counts. Furthermore, Juniper issued an encouraging second-quarter outlook.

Furthermore, we are optimistic about the company’s product launches, cost reduction initiatives and improving execution. Also, the company’s expansion into the software defined network segment should strengthen its position in the networking space.

However, uncertain global macro environment and anticipation of potentially weak investment patterns among customers are the major headwinds. Competition from Cisco CSCO and F5 Networks FFIV as well as delays in large projects are other concerns.

Currently, Juniper has a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell). A better-ranked stock in the broader technology sector is Silicon Motion Technology Corp. SIMO sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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