NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Juniper Networks ( JNPR) posted in-line quarterly results on Tuesday, meeting the lower expectations that it telegraphed earlier in the summer.

The networking gear provider reported a non-GAAP profit of $149.8 million, or 28 cents a share, for the three months ended Sept. 30 with revenue totaling $1.11 billion. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for earnings of 28 cents a share in the September-ended period on revenue of $1.09 billion.

The forecast for the fourth quarter though looks like cause for concern as Juniper said it expects non-GAAP earnings of 32 to 36 cents a share on revenue of between $1.16 billion to $1.22 billion for the three months ending in December. Wall Street's current consensus estimate is for a profit of 36 cents a share on revenue of $1.23 billion.



"The third quarter unfolded as we anticipated, and we achieved the performance objectives we had set for the September quarter," said Robyn Denholm, the company's CFO, in a press release. "We will continue to carefully manage our expense structure with a focus on investing prudently in the resources that support our growth agenda and maintain our commitment to innovation."

The stock was holding steady in after-hours action, tacking on 37 cents to $21.78 on volume of 1.6 million, according to Nasdaq.com.

Juniper shares have taken a major haircut this year, falling more than 40% so far in 2011 as revenue growth stalled. In its fiscal second quarter, Juniper posted earnings of 31 cents a share on revenue of $1.12 billion, missing on both the top and bottom lines and giving a below-consensus view for the third quarter. The stock fell more than 20% on July 26, the day after its last quarterly report, and trended lower through the summer's end, eventually sinking to a 52-week low of $16.67 on Oct. 4, a drop of 46% from its close at $31.17 on July 25.

The culprit for the weak second-quarter performance, according to Juniper, was the uncertainty in the macro economy, and it said the third-quarter outlook, which at that time put non-GAAP earnings between 26 and 30 cents a share, reflected " near-term market weakness due primarily to the timing of certain Service Provider deployments."

CEO Kevin Johnson again referenced the economy in his commentary, saying: "While the macroeconomic environment dictates we remain agile, Juniper is on the right strategic course to deliver continued growth."

The disillusionment with Juniper was evident in analyst ratings ahead of the report as 24 of the 43 analysts covering the stock rated it as either a hold (21), underperform (2) or sell (1), while the median 12-month price target of $25.50 seems a leftover from more bullish days.

-- Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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