NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- On the stock market, there is no shortage of growth stocks that are trading at high multiples. As a value investor, I often worry whether these stocks are worth the risk and can ever grow into their valuation. But also I wonder if investors will ever get the future returns they expect from paying such a premium today.This has been my chief concern with F5 ( FFIV). I've always wanted to like this stock but I could never collect the nerve to pull the trigger. On the heels of its most recent earnings report, I'm glad that I didn't.
On the news, F5 saw its shares plummet 11% -- reaching a new 52-week low of $81.07. It seems the company missed on earnings while also lowering guidance was too much to bear for some investors -- who have now decided to take a more cautious approach in expectations. Combining F5's weak outlook with increased competition, I have to think this is the right stance. Aside from market leader Cisco seeing a resurgence, there are also the threats from Juniper ( JNPR), Riverbed ( RVBD) and new market darling Palo Alto Networks ( PANW), which recently produced 90% year over year revenue growth. Unlike many other tech companies that are dealing with weak IT spending, F5's challenge is twofold. Going in 2013, not only does the company face a challenge to produce growth, but that growth needs to come in sufficient quantities to justify the valuation. While management will never admit that they operate on pressures imposed by the company's stock price, this is also hard to ignore.