Juniper Blowout Sets Table for Cisco

Strong fourth quarter results in networking gear sales send Juniper up 5% after the bell.
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SUNNYVALE, Calif. (

TheStreet

) --

Juniper

(JNPR) - Get Report

flew past Wall Street's financial targets on strong network equipment sales, a solid sign for sector rival

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

.

The Internet gearmaker posted an adjusted profit, excluding one-time items, of 32 cents a share, on par with the 32 cents in the year-ago quarter and well above the pro forma earnings of 26 cents analysts expected, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Sales for the fourth quarter were $941.5 million, up from the $923.5 million in the year-ago period, and far better than the revenue of $884.8 million analysts had targeted.

"Our results for the year, capped by a strong fourth quarter, validate our commitment to managing the business carefully while maintaining investments in innovation," CEO Kevin Johnson said in a press release Thursday.

Looking ahead, Johnson was very optimistic.

"We see improving conditions in 2010 and are positioning Juniper to accelerate out of the downturn," Johnson said.

Tech investors see Juniper as an early read on business conditions for the networking gearmakers like Cisco,

Ciena

(CIEN) - Get Report

and

Riverbed

(RVBD)

. Cisco is set to report earnings Wednesday and more than a few investors will tune in to get the latest update from Cisco chief John Chambers who usually offers his best guess for spending trends and IT demand.

Juniper shares rose 5% to $25.90 in afterhours trading Thursday

-- Reported by Scott Moritz in New York

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