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First Albany Ups NetScreen Technologies to 'Buy'

First Albany upgraded NetScreen Technologies (NSCN) to buy from neutral.

Analyst Matt Barzowskas says he expects continued earnings per share and revenue growth as the company takes share in the virtual private network (VPN) market and expands into secure sockets layer VPN. He says NetScreen is beginning to offer integrated security applications through partnerships and acquisitions. He notes fourth-quarter results beat the Street's estimates, and says the company's balance sheet is solid.

Barzowskas says results in Americas and Europe are strong, and Asia rebounded from a weak third quarter. Based on strong revenue and earnings per share growth, Barzowskas says NetsScreen garners a premium price/sales multiple to peers. He set a $31 target. He raised the 13 cents first-quarter earnings per share estimate to 14 cents; sees 62 cents fiscal 2004 earnings per share (Sep.), and 75 cents earnings per share in fiscal 2005.

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