Shares of enterprise networking equipment maker Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR) plunged as much as 11.5% on Friday, following the release of solid second-quarter results hamstrung by a weak third-quarter guidance update. As of noon, EDT, Juniper's stock traded 10.3% lower.
In the second quarter, Juniper's earnings fell 8% year over year to $1.20 billion. Analysts had been looking for roughly $1.18 billion, so that wasn't too bad in context. The story was the same on Juniper's bottom line, where adjusted earnings fell 16% to $0.48 per diluted share but still exceeded Wall Street's $0.44 consensus estimate.
Looking ahead, Juniper's management hung an earnings target near $0.44 per share for the third quarter alongside revenue guidance of approximately $1.17 billion. Here, analysts had been expecting something more like $0.51 per share and $1.22 billion, respectively. And so, Juniper's investors started running for the exits.
Juniper CEO Rami Rahim admitted that the third-quarter forecast looked a bit weak but reminded investors to keep an eye on the longer-term horizon.
"While the timing of deployments is impacting our Q3 outlook, we remain confident the business will return to year-over-year growth during Q4 and that we have the right solution portfolio and strategy to drive sustained longer-term success," Rahim said in a prepared statement.
The rosy fourth-quarter projection wasn't even based on the upcoming surge of 5G wireless system upgrades. Instead, it rested on a shifting seasonal profile of Juniper's normal operations in a stable pricing environment. The 5G boost will fall in 2019 and beyond.
"I think there could be other catalysts like 5G deployments and metro, but quite frankly, no, this is not something that we're modeling into our assumptions over the next few quarters," Rahim explained on the earnings call. "It's something that we're hopeful will help over the next couple of years."
So quite frankly, I don't see how today's knee-jerk market reaction makes sense in the long run. This looks like a prime buy-in opportunity for a high-quality business with strong and sustainable prospects.