(Adds analyst comments, updates share movement)
* Expects Q1 rev $18-19 mln
* Poor visibility into deployments, pipeline raise concern
* Shares fall 28 pct; among top losers on Toronto exchange
By Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay
BANGALORE, March 9 (Reuters) - Canada's Sandvine Corp expects a drop in first-quarter revenue, its first in more than two years, sending shares of the network equipment maker down as much as 28 percent.
The company -- which helps broadband and telecom operators manage data traffic -- did not give any reason for the surprise revenue decline, but analysts speculated it could be due to delayed deployments. They said the magnitude of the revenue drop was a cause for concern.
"I would not be surprised if some customers have either stopped or delayed deployments," said analyst Sameet Kanade of Northern Securities, adding that purchase orders may not have come through.
Shares of Sandvine, which has been tight-lipped about its business, also fell on Jan. 13, after the company's disappointing fourth-quarter results and a lack of revenue visibility spooked investors.
The shares were down 57 Canadian cents at C$2.49 on Wednesday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock was among the top losers on the exchange.
"We have limited visibility into Sandvine's deployments and pipeline, the company is not even comfortable giving revenue guidance for one quarter," analyst Kris Thompson of National Bank Financial said in a note to clients.
Thompson said the company's partner-driven revenue over the last two quarters was a concern.
Waterloo, Ontario-based Sandvine expects first-quarter revenue of $18-$19 million.
Analysts on average are expecting revenue of C$25.9 million($26.7 million), according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sandvine, whose rivals are Bridgewater Systems Corp and Redknee Solutions Inc , had reported revenue of C$21.9 million in the year-ago quarter.
"We'd recommend putting some money to work in Bridgewater Systems to keep some exposure to the fast-growing broadband wireless sector," Thompson said.
The company, which is scheduled to report its first-quarter results on April 6, draws about two-thirds of its revenue from outside North America.
It works with over 20 resellers, including Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei Technologies Co . It also has contracts with Japan's NTT Communications Corp.
The company said it was disappointed with its revenue in the quarter, but did not lose any "notable deals".
Analysts are, however, upbeat about the company's long-term growth prospects.
"The space in which Redknee, Sandvine and Bridgewater are in - they have all got their niches and the growth is extremely strong, if not exploding," Northern Securities' Kanade said.
All three companies have seen network congestion and greater use of smart phones driving demand for their products and services. Bridgewater recently reported quarterly profit that beat market estimates.
Sandvine remains a leader in the deep packet inspection (DPI) market and it is a hot space, said Canaccord Genuity analyst Eyal Ofir, who has a "buy" rating on the stock.
Communications service providers use DPI to streamline traffic flow. ($1 = 0.971 Canadian Dollars) (Reporting by Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian, Sriraj Kalluvila) (firstname.lastname@example.org; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 4135 5800; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com)