Juniper Networks’ stock plunged more than 6 percent early Thursday on the heels of the company lowering third-quarter 2017 result expectations. The company cited its cloud vertical business for the shortfall.
The company expects third-quarter revenues to come in between $1.25 billion and $1.26 billion, which is short of the $1.29 billion to $1.35 billion previously forecast. Non-GAAP net income per share was trimmed and tightened from previous guidance of between $0.55 and $0.61 to new guidance of $0.54 to $0.56.
“We are confident in our company strategy, product roadmap, and strong positioning with our cloud provider customers as we continue to navigate and disrupt a very dynamic industry,” explained Juniper CEO Rami Rahim, in a statement. “Although we are disappointed in our lower than anticipated revenue, we remain focused on operational excellence, cost efficiencies, and delivering long-term, sustainable growth.”
The news sent Juniper’s stock down more than $1 per share early Thursday, to as low as $25.22 per share. The broader Nasdaq was also down early, but basically flat as of press time.
Just months ago, Juniper CFO Ken Miller cited the vendor’s cloud business as a driver of its second quarter 2017 results. He noted the cloud vertical within the company grew 32 percent year-over-year.
“There is a broader opportunity in the cloud space, not necessarily with the hyperscalers, but the broader cloud market when you look at SaaS [software-as-a-service] providers, regional cloud providers, telco cloud: that’s here now that we are benefiting from,” Rahim said during the company’s second-quarter results conference call.
Juniper is scheduled to release full third-quarter results on Oct. 24.
RBC Capital Markets Analyst Mitch Steves, in a research note, indicated the firm’s own market checks have shown positive demand across the hyperscale/cloud space. He questioned whether Juniper’s announcement was “company specific or a demand pause for Juniper in Q3.”
Steves did positively spin that the new per-share guidance still left open the door for Juniper to meet the low end of its initial guidance. He did, however, cut the firm’s price target for Juniper’s stock from $30 to $27.
“We take our numbers and price target lower to reflect lower than expected results,” Steves wrote. “We think the stock will see support in the mid-20s given the company’s ability to protect operating margins in a lower than expected revenue environment.”
Financial firm William Blair maintained its “market perform” rating on Juniper’s stock, but lowered its full-year 2017 and 2018 revenue and non-GAAP earnings per share estimates.
“While management is doing a fine job controlling costs and funneling profits back to shareholders, the recurrence of margin pressure and muted revenue growth shifts the risk/reward equation toward neutral,” the firm wrote in a research report. “Moreover, challenging telco spending intermixed with security headwinds adds substantial risk to the story, in our view.”