I Can't Wait for Cisco to Figure it Out

04/13/2011 2:31 pm EST


Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

It’s not enough.

After all the breast-beating from Cisco Systems (CSCO) CEO John Chambers about the need for the company to restore credibility and refocus the company, investors get a decision to close the Flip video camera business and cut 550—about 1%—of the company’s employees?

This isn’t the major change that investors were hoping for.

If you’ve been holding the stock in the hope that Cisco would announce a major reorganization that would address falling profit margins and increasing competition in its core businesses, it’s time to admit that current Cisco’s management just doesn’t get it. Take the loss and sell.

In his April 4 memo to the company’s employees, Chambers said that he would make several “targeted moves” to address Cisco’s problems. Those problems include an acquisition strategy that saw Cisco start construction on too many new businesses—many of which had lower profit margins than its core routing and switching business.

The most obvious target in any reorganization was the company’s consumer business, including such products as the Flip video camera and Linksys home-routing gear.

The Flip got a lot of well-deserved attention as a key sign of how badly off track the company was. Why invest in a standalone video camera in a world when more and more consumers use their cell phones for video?

Today’s moves are barely a ripple on Cisco’s ocean of problems needing a fix.

Killing the Flip still leaves Cisco with the Linksys business and related products in audio and media storage. It also leaves the company to face competition from smaller and more focused companies that have introduced new products that challenge Cisco closer to its core business.

Individually, competitors such as Juniper Networks (JNPR) and F5 Networks (FFIV) may be just niche players in comparison to Cisco, but collectively their products suggest that Cisco needs to dedicate itself to recapturing the technology edge in its markets.

Today’s announcement doesn’t get the company to that goal.

As of today, April 13, I’m selling Cisco Systems out of my Jubak’s Picks portfolio, with a loss of 23.25% since I added shares to this portfolio on September 25, 2009.

Full disclosure: I don’t own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this column in my personal portfolio. The mutual fund I manage, Jubak Global Equity Fund (JUBAX), may or may not now own positions in any stock mentioned in this column. The fund did own shares of Cisco Systems as of the end of January. For a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of January, see the fund’s portfolio here. An updated list of the fund’s holdings through the end of March will go up this week.

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