January 20, 2011 / 12:04 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 3-F5 Networks weak Q2 revenue view drags down sector

* Q1 adj EPS $0.88 vs est $0.83

* Q1 rev $268.9 mln vs est $270.3 mln

* Sees Q2 adj EPS $0.84-$0.86 vs est $0.85

* Sees Q2 rev $275-$280 mln vs est $280.7 mln

* Shares down 23 pct after-mkt (Recasts; adds details, analyst comments, updates share movement)

By Siddharth Cavale and Himank Sharma

BANGALORE, Jan 19 (Reuters) - F5 Networks (FFIV.O) forecast weak second-quarter revenue, knocking down network equipment stocks on concerns that the market for managing the explosion in Internet traffic may not be growing as fast as expected.

Shares of F5 Networks, which has outperformed market expectations for the past seven quarters, plunged 23 percent after the company forecast lower-than-expected revenue for the January-March quarter.

F5 Networks, a leader in the network optimization market, has been benefiting from the need to manage network bandwidth as millions of smartphone and tablet users exponentially grow data traffic.

“Expectations were running a little high given that the company had performed so well over the last few quarters,” said Thinkequity analyst Rajesh Ghai.

“However, the performance on an absolute basis is nothing much to complain about. They have become a victim of their own success.”

F5 Networks, whose shares have nearly tripled in the past 12 months, competes with networking giant Cisco (CSCO.O) and smaller peers like Riverbed RVBD.O and BlueCoat Systems BCSI.O.

Shares of Cisco were down about 1 percent, while those in Riverbed fell 9 percent in post-market trading. BlueCoat was trading down 9 percent and data center services provider Equinix Inc (EQIX.O) slumped 3.8 percent.

For the January-March quarter, Seattle-based F5 Networks forecast revenue of $275-$280 million, below Wall Street’s consensus of $280.7 million.

The company, which counts AT&T (T.N) as its customer, expects earnings of 84-86 cents a share, excluding items, for the period. Analysts are expecting 85 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

October-December profit almost doubled on a 40 percent jump in revenue.

The company had received a takeover offer last year and remains a potential target for tech giants such as IBM (IBM.N) and HP (HPQ.N). (Additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Maju Samuel)

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