Cisco and the Evolving Tech World

10/27/2016 8:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Elizabeth Blessing

Contributing Editor, Leeb Group

Since new CEO Chuck Robbins took over in July 2015, this company has undergone a whirlwind of change as it transitions into new markets that reflect evolving technology and changing customer needs, asserts Elizabeth Blessing, contributing editor to The Complete Investor.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) has made 15 acquisitions, including its $260 million purchase of cloud computing startup CliQr and the $700 million purchase of Acano, a specialist in video conferencing technology.

One of the boldest moves was its $1.4 billion purchase of Silicon Valley startup Jasper Technologies, whose Internet of Things (IoT) software platform lets companies manage IoT services on a global scale.

The acquisition is the biggest so far in the dynamic IoT arena and makes Cisco a leading IoT player. 

These acquisitions bring Cisco closer to its goal of moving away from its hardware roots as a provider of switches and routers and into cloud, data center, and software markets.

As Cisco’s customers increasingly connect their devices to the cloud, Robbins sees a big opportunity in these areas.

The company has announced it is cutting up to 5,500 positions—roughly 7 percent of its global workforce—starting in early fiscal 2017.

The layoffs are primarily in the company’s older lower-growth businesses, with the savings slated to be ploughed back into priority areas such as security, data centers, cloud, and IoT.

Cisco continues to show dedication to shareholders, raising its dividend by almost 24 percent in fiscal 2016 for a current yield of nearly 3.37 percent.

In all the company returned $8.7 billion to shareholders via share buybacks and dividends, around 70 percent of its free cash flow.

While it may take time for Cisco’s restructuring efforts to bear full fruit, we like the aggressive steps Robbins has taken to position the company as a leader in the fast-evolving tech world.

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By Elizabeth Blessing, Contributing Editor to The Complete Investor

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