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Ahead of the Bell: F5 Networks

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of F5 Networks jumped before Thursday's opening bell after the data networking company released better-than-expected results for its fiscal first quarter and issued a strong outlook for the current period.

In premarket trading, F5 shares added $11.29, or 12 percent, to $108.77.

The company's profit for the quarter slipped 2 percent, but its adjusted results and revenue beat Wall Street predictions, helped by strong demand for its newer products.

In a conference call with investors, the company said it's targeting adjusted second-quarter earnings per share of $1.23 to $1.26 and revenue of $408 million to $418 million. Analysts polled by FactSet expected profit of $1.21 per share on $404.6 million in revenue.

Seattle-based F5 also said Thursday that its board approved the spending of up to $500 million to buy back shares of its own stock. That's in addition to the $281.3 million currently remaining on its existing buyback plan.

Janney Capital Markets analyst Bill Choi lifted his rating for the stock to "Buy" from "Neutral." Choi said demand may be improving among large customers, with many of them expected to make significant investments in the near future. Cantor Fitzgerald's Brian White, who has a "Buy" rating on the stock, boosted his price target by $20 to $130.