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Juniper Networks CEO throws in towel as firm swims in cash

Leaving on a high note

It is always best to bow out at the top, but Juniper Networks' CEO has decided to stand down well before the company is close to peaking. At least, that's what investors will be hoping.

Kevin Johnson revealed last night that the network gear firm has created a Search Committee of independent directors to locate and appoint his successor as CEO, at which point he will walk.

He spoke about his decision during a fiscal Q2 earnings call with analysts last night as Juniper filed a seven per cent jump in sales to $1.15bn and net profits rose to $98m up from $57.7m last year.

"After 32 years in a line operating role, with the past five years here at Juniper, my family and I have decided it was time to take a break," he said.

With that, Johnson turned his attention to the numbers, saying the enterprise market "continues to be areas of weakness" though it is starting to show some life both in the US and Europe. The product biz grew to $863.8m from $80.47m a year ago and services were up to $286.9m from $269m. Sales were up in the Americas, flat in EMEA and down in Asia Pacific.

Routing and switching grew in the Platform Services Division, but in the Software Solutions unit, security was down 20 per cent to $126m and routing turnover was flat.

Johnson said service provider demand in the carrier market was "strong" in wireline and noted "emerging signs" of growth in wireless. He said it was seeing traction with the cable service providers space, and in core routing and switching sales are on the up as customers' cap-ex budgets return.

On the enterprise side, switching and data centre business grew, said Juniper. But their soon-to-be-ex-CEO stopped short of really hailing a market recovery, saying he expects the "macroeconomic environment to remain uncertain".

"We expect modest growth in the markets we serve," said Johnson.

Juniper's security operation is expected to improve over the next few quarters, top brass said as bookings grew by six per cent. The Campus and Branch network security for corporate customers was hit by product transitions from the older Screen OS to the SRX line, the firm revealed.

Software defined networking goodness is due to be rolled out in the second half of the year after pulling forward the release date, Juniper said.

Revenues for the quarter ending 30 September are expected to be in the region of $1.14bn to $1.18bn, so peak Juniper does seem at least more than one quarter away. ®

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