10 Juniper Earnings Takeaways: New CFO, Revenues Up 20 Percent, Shares Plummet

The Ultimate Mixed Bag

Juniper Networks' fourth-quarter earnings report brought big highs and major lows.

On the downside, longtime CFO Robyn Denholm revealed her impending departure, while the networking vendor's guidance for the next quarter made its stock plummet. But on the plus side, Juniper reported positive year-over-year growth across the board -- from switching and security products to a whopping 25 percent spike in its service provider business.

CEO Rami Rahim was bullish on Juniper's quarter and outlook for 2016. He also gave his thoughts on telecom giants' joining the Facebook Open Compute project as well as what Juniper's acquisition of BTI Systems means for its software business.

Here, CRN presents 10 takeaways from Juniper's earnings report, plus a bit of partner perspective.


After more than eight years as Juniper's CFO, Robyn Denholm is leaving the networking vendor. Juniper appointed longtime executive Ken Miller (pictured) to succeed Denholm.

"Ken has been with Juniper for 16 years and it extremely qualified for the position," said Andrew Fisher, CEO at Myriad Supply, a New York-based solution provider and Juniper partner ranked No. 289 on the CRN 2015 Solution Provider 500 list. "We don't expect there to be any changes affecting the channel."

Denholm is staying on with Juniper until the summer to ensure a smooth transition, according to Rahim.

"We have accomplished a lot over this time, and I feel really good about where the company is positioned and the financial and operational discipline that is in play," said Denholm during the earnings call. "I also believe that the company is in great hands with Rami and with Ken as we move forward."

Negative Guidance For Q1; Stocks Plummet

Although Juniper beat Wall Street estimates for the fourth quarter, its guidance for the current quarter was below consensus because of the uncertainty of the global macroeconomic environment and potential "lumpiness" of customer investment patterns. Juniper is expecting first-quarter fiscal year 2016 revenue of $1.17 billion, about $20 million below the consensus of $1.19 billion.

"The macro volatility we're seeing is really widespread, and it touches pretty much all of our customers across verticals and different geos as well," said Rahim.

After the weaker-than-expected guidance and the news of the departure of the CFO, stocks plummeted in overnight trading, from $26.54 before the earnings report to $22.17 on Thursday morning. As of close Thursday, the company shares had climbed slightly, to $22.46.

Facebook To Take Over The Data Center?

AT&T, Verizon and Deutsche Telekom all signed on to back Facebook's Open Compute project, an open-source data center design. By bringing on the telecom giants, Facebook seeks to create low-cost data center gear that could put Cisco's leadership position in the carrier infrastructure space in jeopardy.

When questioned about the potential impact on Juniper, Rahim said there's not going to be an "overnight shift in the business model," although he does believe the world is shifting toward a white-box switching model.

"We are taking the steps necessary to make sure that in a world where white-box switching starts to become more prominent, that we will be able to participate, to add value and of course create shareholder value from that transition," said Rahim. "Overtime, business models will adjust so that more of the value is going to be monetized through software, and we're taking meaningful steps in that direction."

BTI Acquisition Will Advance Software Push

Juniper made its first acquisition in more than two years this week with the purchase of software networking specialist BTI Systems for an undisclosed amount.

By combining Juniper's data center switching and IP routing platforms with BTI's cloud and metro networking systems and software, Rahim said, Juniper expects to "transform" packet optical networking with open-software-driven solutions that are automated, highly programmable and cost-efficient, and that offer service agility.

"Our increased focus on software business models will result in an increase in software revenue as a percentage of total revenue over time," said Rahim.

Partners said the acquisition will boost the channel's software sales moving forward.

Switching Up 21%

Juniper's switching revenue grew 21 percent year over year, jumping from $174 million to $210 million.

"I am bullish on our ability to grow this part of our business," said Rahim. "If you look at where the opportunity lies, it's mostly in the data center and the cloud. This is true for all of our vertical market segments, whether it's our telecom operators that are building out their next-generation distributed cloud architectures transforming their network locations to scale out data centers. … Certainly true for enterprises that are moving to a hybrid cloud architecture. I think we can benefit from that."

For the overall fiscal year 2015, Juniper switching rose nearly 7 percent from fiscal year 2014, increasing from $721 million to $768 million.

"That is largely without the benefit of the new spine switches, which we expect to ramp [up] in this year," said Rahim.

Routing Up 24%

Routing jumped 24 percent year over year, from $523 million to $647 million in the fourth quarter.

"In routing over the last few quarters, we've been taking market share, and I think that's because of the strength of our product portfolio and the engagement that we're having with our service provider and enterprise customers around the world," said Rahim. "Last quarter was a great quarter for the MX and the PTX. This quarter is another fantastic quarter for the MX. So there are really two routing product lines that are humming right now in terms of the business momentum that we are building."

"Both have fantastic road maps and both are hitting the market in terms of both the software capabilities [and] the services -- and the density and the performance," he said.

For the overall fiscal year 2015, Juniper routing rose 6 percent from fiscal year 2014, from $2.22 billion to $2.36 billion.

Security Up 20%

A significant push for Juniper in 2015 was in security. The vendor grew its security revenue by 20 percent year over year, from $96.5 million to $116 million.

"Cybersecurity is top of mind for organizations of all sizes. Investing in security is imperative for our customers and Juniper strategy. We believe the future of security is intimately tied to the network, and we are investing and innovating in our domain solutions with that direction in mind," said Rahim. "Security grew 5 percent [for the] full year, year-to-year comparison, and I think that's not an accident."

Rahim also said its Sky Advanced Threat Prevention, an advanced malware protection cloud-based solution, is in beta but will start shipping shortly.

"There, you're going to see a rolling thunder of security enhancements that we will make across managements, where we knew that we have some work to do to better penetrate the enterprise with … next-gen firewall capabilities," said Rahim.

Data Center Market Growth

Rahim said he believes the biggest opportunity for Juniper lies in the data center.

"I'd say the biggest areas of focus -- and where our competitive differentiation is going to be greatest, as well as where our go-to-market attention is also the highest -- is in the data center opportunity," said Rahim.

He said cloud providers are moving from 25GbE to 50GbE inside their data centers. Its new QFX5200 Data Center Switch and recent disaggregated version of its flagship Junos solution is resonating with customers.

"If you look at our switching market share, although it's actually nudging up, we're still relatively small, and for that reason, the opportunity for us to penetrate into the data center with switching products … interconnects with our MX product line as well as some of the packet optical architectures. … Data center is in fact the area where we are strongest today from a security standpoint," said Rahim. "We expect revenue to start ramping [up] this year."

Service Provider, Enterprise Markets Climbing

Juniper's enterprise and service provider business both increased during the fourth quarter. Its service provider revenue grew 25 percent year over year, from $744 million to $933 million. Juniper's enterprise sales rose 8 percent compared with the year-ago quarter, jumping from $357 million to $386 million.

"For telcos in particular, the most important thing we need to do is to make sure that we remain extremely relevant to the next-generation architectures that they are now contemplating and will eventually deploy," said Rahim. "Things like cloud CPE, things like deploying [software-defined networking] and transforming their network locations to data center-like entities, I feel really good about the level of engagement that we are having with our telco operator to be able to capture that opportunity when it becomes real."

Myriad Supply's Fisher said Juniper products have "proven to be huge" in the service provider space.

"Their Contrail automation and orchestration solution, for example, has gained significant traction in the service provider space, and is viewed as one of the more promising solutions in the market," said Fisher.

Bullish CEO

Rahim was bullish in his predictions for Juniper this year.

"In 2016, we plan to continue to capture inflection points in the industry that will help to accelerate our existing strategy. We planned to do so through continued execution and product innovation as well as partnerships and tuck-in acquisitions when appropriate that complement our organic R&D strategy," said Rahim.

Rahim says he sees new growth opportunities in the data center interconnect and metro Ethernet markets. "We're still sticking to our long-term outlook, which includes 2015, 2016 and 2017, of the 3 percent to 6 percent [annual] revenue [increase]," he said.

Myriad Supply's Fisher also is upbeat about Juniper's prospects. "We met with Rami [Rahim] recently at Ideas/Connected [partner conference] in Miami and feel extremely positive about Juniper's portfolio, including forthcoming developments around security," he said.

Juniper's overall 2015 fiscal year revenue increased 5 percent, to $4.86 billion, compared with fiscal year 2014.