NEW YORK (AP) – An Oppenheimer analyst upgraded shares of Juniper Networks Inc. Friday, saying the company is poised to benefit from a recovery in spending by telecom carriers in 2010.

Analyst Ittai Kidron upgraded the computer networking equipment maker to "Outperform" from "Perform" and established a target price of $31.

In addition to the carrier spending recovery, Kidron expects data center consolidation and virtualization to "open the door for Juniper" to expand its presence in the enterprise, or corporate, market and gain market share.

Virtualization technology helps save companies money by allowing one computer to act as several machines.

Juniper's shares had retreated somewhat on Thursday after Hewlett-Packard Co. said it would buy 3Com Corp., leaving Juniper out of a consolidation move in the networking equipment market.

But Kidron said Friday that while HP is a missed opportunity when it comes to manufacturers, IBM Corp. and Dell Inc. offer "material," multiple-year opportunities for Juniper to outpace expectations. He called the company an attractive long-term holding.

Juniper shares added 55 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $25.25 in premarket activity Friday.

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