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Juniper Hints at Networking Recovery

Is the recession over? Not quite, but according to the CEO of networking vendor Juniper (NASDAQ: JNPR), it's seeing signs in its business that indicate a recovery is underway.

That doesn't mean that everything is rosy yet.

For its third-quarter financial results, Juniper reported net revenues of $823.9 million, which is a 13 percent decline on a year-over-year basis. Net income came in at $83.8 million or $0.16 per diluted share, a marked decline from the $148 million or $0.27 per share Juniper posted a year ago. Minus one-time charges, Juniper's income came in at $0.23 a share -- a drop from the $0.32 during Q3 2008.

That's still higher than analysts had expected, though: Wall Street consensus expected $799.5 million in revenue and earnings before charges of $0.21 per share, according to Thomson Reuters estimates.

Though the numbers are down from 2008, Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson noted that he has reason for optimism and provided fourth-quarter revenue guidance of between $860 million to $895 million.

"I commented during our Q2 call that it appeared that we had hit a bottom in the first half of 2009," Johnson said during the company's earnings call. "Our Q3 results support that view that we are in the early phase of an economic recovery."

Johnson noted that Juniper is getting better order visibility into what both service providers and enterprise customers plan to buy in the months ahead. Additionally, on a quarter-over-quarter basis, he noted that there has been an uptick in spending as confidence is returning to the networking marketplace.

In terms of business strategy, Johnson said that acquisitions are not likely in the picture for Juniper. Instead, the company will continue to grow its own technology and partner ecosystem.

A key part of that partner ecosystem is IBM, which now resells and OEMs Juniper networking equipment. Johnson said that, in the long term, he has very high aspirations for the IBM partnership.

Still, he added that for the present, he has only modest expectations for how the IBM partnership will translates into revenue for Juniper.

When it comes to networking gear, Johnson said that many service providers have been running their networks "hot," though demand keeps growing and further investments by carriers in their networks is required.

"Our view is that bandwidth demand will double every two years for the next decade," Johnson said.

Johnson added that on a macroeconomic basis, the fact is there are good signs of economic recovery even though it varies by geography, and that bodes well for continued investment in the network to support the traffic.

"The traffic is continuing to grow -- that's a constant and that's not changing," Johnson said. "There will be continued pressure to make sure that the infrastructure is in place to deliver traffic and ensure the quality of service that customers expect."