Juniper Demurs on Playing Beat the Analyst

Juniper Networks is getting punished this morning (down more than 10% last I checked) for putting out numbers that merely met analyst expectations. Here is one analyst blithely speaking the truth about the matter:

“It seems like the results were uncharacteristically in line with no upside for revenue and EPS (earnings per share). Typically, you get good upside on the top line and usually a penny better on the bottom line,” said Mark Sue, analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

I love that phrasing, “uncharacteristically in line…”. In other words, shades of 1999, Juniper usually games the analyst community, predictably beating their targets by a penny per share of earnings. So when it doesn’t analysts get all whiny about the stock, “Whaaaa! Where’s my extra penny?!”

Yes, I’ll concede that inability to beat consensus numbers when you
have set a pattern of doing so can be a sign that things are awry in
your business. But that said, the whole idea of such childishness still
leaves me cold. After all, analysts know that companies know that
analysts know they play that game, so it shouldn’t happen every quarter
… but it does.


  1. the fact that such trivialities can defalte a stock by 20% is a useful reminder of how fluffy many of these valuations are.

  2. I remember after the last bubble burst and Eliot Spitzer cracked down on analysts and that whole circus act, everyone was talking about how this would stop companies from “guiding” analysts and then beating by a penny every time (which Cisco did for something like 19 quarters in a row). But not much really changed. Most analysts are happy to be “guided” and then expect a little “surprise” come earnings day, and if it doesn’t come they’re as disappointed as a kid who didn’t get that new bike he was promised.