Sector Snap: Networking Equipment

Shares of a variety of networking companies tumble on F5 Networks guidance cut

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of a variety of networking equipment and other information technology companies took a hit Friday after F5 Networks Inc. cut its outlook for the January-March quarter, citing disappointing results from its North American business.

Seattle-based F5, which sells information technology and networking equipment and services, said telecommunications contract bookings dropped compared with the October-December quarter and the same period in 2012. Revenue from business with the federal government also fell.

Not surprisingly, F5 posted some of the sector's biggest losses. Shares fell $16.50, or 18.3 percent, to $73.92 in morning trading, after dropping as low as $71.95 earlier in the day and marking their lowest price since October 2011.

Also on Friday, Israeli technology company Radware cut its first-quarter earnings and revenue forecasts, citing weaker-than-expected sales in China and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. That company's shares dropped $8.28, or 22 percent, to $29.30.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Todd Weller said he expects F5's announcement to boost fears about technology spending, especially coming on the heels of disappointing quarterly results from Oracle Corp. and Tibco Software Inc.

In particular, F5's drop in federal government business could reflect poorly on Sourcefire Inc., which gets about 20 percent of its revenue from the government. But Weller noted that while federal government demand for technology has been "choppy" over the last several quarters, security spending remains a priority.

On the upside, Weller added that several technology companies have announced when they will released their results for the March quarter without releasing and earnings guidance.

"While this does not necessarily translate into good quarters, it usually means that the quarter was not a disaster," Weller wrote in a note to investors.

Here's how shares of some other networking equipment and IT companies were trading Friday:

— Juniper Networks Inc., down 82 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $17.30.

— Citrix Systems Inc., down $1.73, or 2.5 percent, to $68.

— Cisco Systems Inc., down 44 cents, or 2 percent, to $20.60.

— Riverbed Technology Inc., down 36 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $14.60.

— Sourcefire, down $1.43, or 2.5 percent, to $54.93.

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