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Juniper sales shine amid tough networking market

The maker of high-end network routers beats Wall Street expectations for the fourth quarter as quarterly revenue increased sixfold from levels a year ago.

    Juniper Networks, a maker of high-end network routers, beat Wall Street expectations for the fourth quarter on Tuesday as quarterly revenue increased sixfold from levels a year ago.

    Pro forma net income for the period ending Dec. 31 was $84.6 million, or 24 cents per share, on revenue of $295.4 million. That compares with earnings of $4.8 million, or 1 cent per share, on revenue of $45.4 million for the same period in 1999.

    Analysts expected Juniper to earn 18 cents per share, according to a survey by First Call.

    Juniper's quarterly net income, including one-time charges, was $62.2 million or 18 cents per share.

    At the close of regular market trading, Juniper shares were down $3.50, or more than 2 percent, to $128. Juniper rose slightly in after-hours trading following the earnings report.

    Juniper's strong sales are a welcome sign for a communications equipment market that has been pounded in recent weeks. The tough market has forced many communications carriers to trim their capital expenditures--money typically reserved for buying hardware necessary to upgrade their networks.

    "It's unclear whether this is really a slowdown or a self-inflicted pause," said Chief Executive Scott Kriens following the release of the earnings report. "These are the times that will test the conviction of all involved (in the industry)."

    Kriens admitted Juniper had reduced visibility for coming quarters, but the company said it remains optimistic about the market for its equipment. As a result, it upped projections for sales in its 2001 fiscal year to $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion from $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion.

    "The demand is as strong as ever," Kriens said.

    For 2000, Juniper reported earnings of $184 million, or 53 cents a share, on revenue of $673.5 million. This compares with a pro forma net loss of $4.7 million, or 3 cents a share, on revenue of $102.6 million in 1999.

    The company makes high-end routers, competing directly with Cisco Systems, and other networking equipment makers.