Cisco Sells off…After Record Quarter?

05/13/2010 3:32 pm EST


Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor,

When I was a kid and I’d turn up my turn up my nose at a great present that wasn’t exactly what I wanted, my grandmother would say, “What do you want, egg in your beer?”

Well, today, May 13, investors in Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) remind me of that little kid I was. They’ve sold off shares of Cisco Systems by a little more than 4% today because, in earnings for the company’s fiscal third quarter, announced after the market closed yesterday, the company only reported the strongest quarter in company history (said CEO John Chambers) and didn’t raise guidance for the next quarter.

Mind you, Cisco didn’t cut guidance. On the conference call, the company said revenue for the next quarter—the company’s fiscal fourth quarter—would be up 25% to 28% from the fourth quarter a year earlier. That works out to revenue of $10.6 to $10.9 billion, exactly in line with the $10.68 that Wall Street analysts had projected.

And that’s the big disappointment? Got to be since I can’t find one in the rest of Cisco’s numbers.

Earnings per share came in at 42 cents a share after excluding non-recurring items. That was three cents a share above Wall Street estimates. Revenue climbed by 27% from a year earlier to $10.37 billion. Wall Street was looking for $10.24 billion.

And the future looks pretty good. CEO Chambers (Did I mention that he called this the strongest quarter in the company’s history?) reported that the company picked up market share in both switching and routing—two of the company’s core markets—during the global downturn. In the quarter, Cisco grew switching sales by 40% from the third quarter of fiscal 2009 and grew sales of routers by 25%.

I commented a while back in lamenting Qualcomm’s (Nasdaq: QCOM) erratic earnings and revenue guidance that companies have character. Cisco’s long-time CEO isn’t a boaster. He’s, in fact, reliably conservative. As solid as Cisco’s numbers were in this report, the odds are that Chambers was conservative in talking about the future. There’s a lot of pent-up demand for Cisco’s products in networking and the Internet. (For why you want to buy companies with pent-up demand and some other examples, see this recent post.)

If you don’t own Cisco Systems, I’d certainly consider buying on the current weakness. I certainly don’t see any reason in this news to sell.

As of May 13, I’m raising my target price for Cisco Systems to $32 a share by November from my earlier target of $29 by June.

Full disclosure: I own shares of Cisco Systems in my personal portfolio.

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