Making his first public presentation as Juniper‘s CEO, Shaygan Kheradpir said Thursday that he’ll be delivering a new operating plan in a few weeks, one that includes cost reductions and the possible reallocation of capital.
Kheradpir, who started on Jan. 1, outlined his plan while delivering Juniper’s fourth-quarter earnings, which turned out to be pretty good.
His plan includes apparent concessions (or at least lip service) to the criticisms recently filed by the Elliott Management hedge fund, which is demanding a $200 million-per-year reduction in expenses and a share buyback program. (Update: Another hedge fund, Jana Partners LLC, has taken a large stake in Juniper and, like Elliott, is suggesting cuts and share buybacks, according to a report Thursday night from Reuters.)
“I’ll be taking a 3-pronged approach: focused R&D that matters, radical simplification on automation, and rightsizing,” he said.
Rightsizing? Yes, that appears to mean more layoffs, in addition to recently announced cuts that Juniper completed during the December quarter. The announced number for those cuts was 280, but the final total was 240, CFO Robyn Denholm said on the call; Juniper’s headcount as of Dec. 31 was 9,483.
Kheradpir sees Juniper as a “leading provider of high-IQ networks and best-in-class cloud builder,” and the “high IQ” part, which got repeated a few times, seems to be his new buzzword for the company.
There’s been speculation that Kheradpir might try to sell off Juniper’s enterprise business and return the company to its service-provider roots. That strategy was even the source of some chatter during previous CEO Kevin Johnson’s term. Asked directly about this, Kheradpir only said that the division between service provider and enterprise businesses isn’t as clean-cut any more. What he sees is a blurring of markets between service providers, hyperscale Web developers such as Google, and large enterprises such as Barclay’s, his former employer.
“Those forces of customers, with a little bit maybe a few others, like federal government and so forth, they pretty much are all coalescing around the same set of things, as far as networking is concerned, which is clouds and high-IQ networks,” he said.
For its fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31, Juniper reported revenues of $1.27 billion and GAAP net income of $151.8, or 30 cents per share. For the same quarter a year ago, Juniper reported revenues of $1.14 billion and net income of $95.7 million, or 19 cents per share.
Non-GAAP net income of 43 cents per share beat the consensus estimate of 37 cents, according to Reuters.
Juniper shares were up $2.41 (9%) at $28.42 in early trading Friday.
(Quotations taken from Seeking Alpha’s transcript of the call.)