* Q3 rev $823.9 mln, higher than Street view of $799.5 mln
* Q3 EPS excluding items 23 cents vs Street’s 21 cents
* Sees Q4 rev $860-895 mln, higher than market’s $835 mln
* Shares up 1.4 pct (Updates with outlook and CEO comments, rise in shares)
By Ritsuko Ando
NEW YORK, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Network equipment maker Juniper Networks Inc’s JNPR.O quarterly results and outlook exceeded Wall Street estimates, adding to hopes that a recovery in telecommunications spending was underway.
However, analysts said they were still concerned about how the company plans to grow in the long term, particularly in light of recent mergers and acquisitions among rivals, including industry leader Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O).
Revenue for the quarter ended Sept. 30 fell 13 percent from a year earlier to $823.9 million, but was up 5 percent from the previous quarter and higher than the average analyst forecast of $799.5 million according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net income fell to $83.8 million, or 16 cents per share, from $148.5 million, or 27 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.
Earnings, excluding items, were 23 cents a share, down from 32 cents a year ago but higher than expectations of 21 cents.
“Our Q3 results support that view that we are indeed in the early phases of an economic recovery,” Chief Executive Kevin Johnson told investors on a conference call.
For the fourth quarter, Juniper forecast earnings of 23 cents to 26 cents a share, excluding items, and revenue of $860 million to $895 million. The market was expecting earnings of 23 cents a share on revenue of $835 million.
Thursday’s numbers appeared to confirm a recovery in technology spending by U.S. companies including phone and cable service providers, and Juniper’s shares rose 1.4 percent in extended trade to $28.61 from their close at $28.22.
But some analysts said they were concerned about Juniper’s longer-term strategy after Cisco said last week that it would acquire wireless gear maker Starent for $2.9 billion — a deal seen hurting Juniper’s position among wireless providers.
That was followed by Tellabs Inc’s TLAB.O announcement earlier on Thursday to buy wireless infrastructure gear manufacturer WiChorus for $165 million.
“With Cisco buying Starent and today, losing WiChorus to Tellabs, the question is what are they going to do about it, who are they going to partner with,” said Forest & Sullivan analyst Ronald Gruia.
Analysts have predicted more deals in wireless networking as phone companies upgrade their networks to accommodate more wireless Internet access. In addition to Cisco, major players in the wireless equipment space include Alcatel-Lucent SA ALUA.PA and Ericsson (ERICb.ST).
Juniper’s Johnson did not rule out M&A but said the company’s priority was in growing its own technology. Simply acquiring companies and tacking on products to its own portfolio would not help customers, he said.
“It’s this organic investment in innovation that is the key value creator for Juniper,” he said. “This is not to say that we will not or do not look at acquisition opportunities. We do look at them, but we expect organic R&D to be a primary value creator.” (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Richard Chang and Carol Bishopric)