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Juniper Networks meets expectations

The network-gear maker reports that a recent spurt in telephone equipment sales helped first-quarter net income meet analyst expectations.

Network-gear maker Juniper Networks reported Thursday that first-quarter net income met analyst expectations, helped along by a recent spurt in telephone equipment sales.

Net income for the period was $3.7 million, or 1 cent per share, on revenue of $157.2 million. That compares with a net loss of $46 million, or 14 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Analysts expected Juniper to earn 1 cent per share in the first quarter, according to a survey of 33 brokers by First Call.

Juniper sells most of its equipment to telephone companies, making its financial successes or failures a bellwether for the telecommunications industry. Thursday's modest results appear to offer no real sign that phone companies have begun spending again on network build-outs, and Juniper CEO Scott Kriens doesn't expect recovery anytime soon.

"Many of our customers are repairing financial condition and balance sheets, with the uncertainty of world events affecting everyone across all sectors," Kriens told financial analysts Thursday. "Economic indicators like unemployment haven't moved in desired directions. I'm not sure when it will improve."

"Our increased confidence is not yet an industry phenomenon," Kriens said.

Juniper managed to reach profitability on the strength of several new contracts for cell phone equipment, including one with European carrier Orange's British cell phone operator Orange UK, Kriens said.

The earnings report was issued after the close of regular trading, at which time Juniper shares were even at $8.41.

The company's major competitor is Cisco Systems. The two companies sell about 95 percent of the world's high-end routers. On May 6, Cisco is expected to report first-quarter earnings of about 14 cents a share, slightly weaker than the 15 cents a share it reported in the fourth quarter.