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Downgrade Dumps Juniper

The router maker hits first-quarter targets, but it's not enough.

Updated from April 23


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sank 5% after Piper Jaffray downgraded the stock to hold from buy, citing valuation concerns.

The move came a day after Juniper nailed its first-quarter earnings target and offered guidance that was in line with Wall Street estimates. But shares fell 96 cents to $20.15 Tuesday morning.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., Internet gearmaker posted an adjusted profit of $112.4 million, or 19 cents a share. Those numbers are flat with year-ago levels and in line with analysts' expectations, according to Reuters Research.

Sales for the quarter ended in March were $626.9 million, an 11% increase over the same quarter last year. Analysts were looking for sales of $621 million.

"Our first quarter results were in line with our expectations," CEO Scott Kriens said in a press release. "We continue to see a solid opportunity for Juniper moving forward and remain focused on meeting the strategic needs of our customers and sharpening our execution."

Looking ahead, Juniper told analysts on an earnings call to expect a second-quarter adjusted profit of 20 cents a share on sales between $640 million and $650 million. That is roughly in line with analysts' expectations for pro forma EPS of 20 cents on $647 million in revenue, according to Reuters Research.

Bulls looking for a brighter outlook may be a bit disappointed.

"The guidance was OK, not great," said one money manager. "The stock ran up into the quarter's earning report; it likely trades back some after this."

For the full year, Juniper left the prior guidance unchanged, with a call for an adjusted profit of 80 to 81 cents a share on sales of about $2.65 billion. Those targets are also in line with Wall Street expectations.

Juniper shares were down 16 cents to $20.95 in postclose trading Monday.