NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For years, the prevailing debate among the networking companies has always centered on two companies, market leader Cisco (CSCO) or Juniper Networks (JNPR). At one point, the comparison between the two was not even close as Cisco was one of the largest companies in the world, according to market cap. But some questionable business moves allowed Juniper and lesser known names to encroach on its territory, becoming a new growth story within the sector. It is remarkable how things have changed.These days, questions surface about the overall health of Juniper's business -- meanwhile Cisco has been resurgent, demonstrating it has not forgotten how to execute and deserves to regain its "Wall Street darling" status. However, networking companies like Juniper that are approaching the status of expensive need to be evaluated not only for growth prospects, but also for the overall health of carrier spending. A significant portion of its revenue is drawn from names such as AT&T ( T) and Verizon ( VZ).
For the current quarter, Juniper expects revenue in the range of $1.03 billion to $1.06 billion and adjusted profit in the range of 15 cents a share to 17 cents a share. Analysts were expecting a profit of 20 cents a share, on revenue of $1.05 billion, according to a consensus survey by FactSet Research. It's hard for me to get all "warm and fuzzy" about this report, but nevertheless the company's stock soared as much as 7% when the results were said to have been leaked ahead of the official announcement, prompting the halt of trading. It seems the market rewarded Juniper with the reaction of "things were less bad than expected" -- and sometimes that it just good enough even though the company reported an outlook that (on the surface) appears less favorable compared than rivals Cisco or even F5 ( FFIV) are expecting.