Juniper Networks Under Investor Pressure To Change Course

Juniper Networks could be making changes in -- or even sell -- its security and switching units, if it agrees to changes being demanded by a key investor. Hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. is asking Juniper, the industry's second-largest maker of computing networking equipment after Cisco, to make the changes in order to boost its share price and "unlock significant value."

The requests for a change of direction at Juniper were made in a 27-page presentation issued by Elliott on Monday, which pointed to new directions involving cost realignment, capital return and product portfolio optimization. The presentation, also filed with regulators, described Juniper's performance as lacking compared with other tech competitors, and said that its shareholders "are significantly frustrated."

The proposals would cut costs by $200 million a year, in part by reducing spending so that it would be more aligned with what the investment fund said are industry norms. These include trimming R&D investment, and lowering engineers' compensation to levels that Elliott contended is more in line with packages paid by Juniper's competitors.

More than $3 Billion in Cash

Elliott, which owns 6.2 percent of Juniper's common stock, said Juniper's stock is undervalued, and could be worth as much as $40 a share. On Monday afternoon, Juniper shares sold for $25.53, an 8 percent increase over Friday's prices.

The fund is also calling on Juniper to buy back as much as $3.5 billion of its shares and to pay a dividend, which the company has never done in its nearly two decades of existence.

Elliott pointed out that Juniper has more than $3 billion in cash, and said Juniper is keeping more cash on hand as a percentage of its market capitalization than even the cash-hoarding Apple. The fund is also asking Juniper to re-examine its activities in security and switching,...

Comments are closed.