Juniper Q4 grows, but falls short

Juniper posted a 14% hike in fourth-quarter sales but fell short of Wall Street expectations.

Juniper posted a 14% hike in fourth-quarter sales that nonetheless fell short of Wall Street expectations.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2008, Juniper recorded revenue of US$923.5 million, which fell short of consensus analyst estimates of $936.2 million, according to Thomson Financial. It also came in on the short side of Juniper's guidance of $921 million to $971 million for the quarter.

Revenue was also down 2.5% from the third quarter.

Earnings, excluding charges, expenses and other items, were in line with Wall Street estimates: $169 million, or $0.32 per diluted share, up 19% from a year ago.

For the full year, Juniper posted revenue of $3.57 billion, a 26% hike from 2007 results. Earnings, excluding charges, expenses and other items, were $650.8 million, or $1.18 per diluted share, up 36% from 2007's results.

"Even in this tough economy, we managed to grow year-over-year quarterly revenue by 14% and non-GAAP diluted earnings per share by 19%," said Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson in a statement. "We continue to play offense and grow market share while at the same time taking action to responsibly manage our cost structure.... Juniper is positioned for accelerated growth once market conditions improve."

Juniper said it is conducting a review of the operations of its Japanese distributors. In December 2008, the company became aware of facts that caused it to question the accuracy of point-of-sale reports from a few distributors in Japan with respect to a small number of transactions.

As a result, Juniper commenced a review of its revenue from sales through distributors in Japan. Based on its review to date, Juniper has deferred an additional $3 million of revenue for sales through distributors in Japan.

Total preliminary revenue for sales through distributors in Japan, after the $3 million deferral, for 2008 was approximately $53 million and approximately $13 million in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, 2008. Because the review is ongoing, Juniper has not made a final determination of its revenue from distributor sales in Japan and therefore these preliminary results could change.

Juniper expects to complete the review prior to filing its 10-K with the SEC.

Product revenue for the quarter in Juniper's Infrastructure Products Group -- predominantly service provider routers -- was up 17% to $587 million. Product revenue in the Service Layer Technology (SLT) group -- predominantly enterprise technologies such as security and WAN optimization systems -- dropped 5.6% to $159 million.

Nonetheless, SLT revenue was up 6% for the full year of 2008. Juniper's overall enterprise business was up 17% year-over-year in the quarter, Johnson said.

Enterprise now accounts for 31% of Juniper's annual revenue.

For the current first quarter of 2009, Juniper expects revenue of $800 million to $830 million -- flat to down 3% compared to 2008's first quarter, and down $100 million or more from the fourth quarter. Juniper did not provide guidance for the full year of 2009.

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