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Cisco Knocks the Cover Off . . . Again

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted August 9, 2007

On the same day that Barry Bonds belted his way into baseball history, Cisco Systems crushed a long ball of its own. But unlike the Bonds home run that fell practically without a sound, Cisco’s 4Q performance led to nothing but cheers on the Street, particularly over at the NASDAQ.

The tech-heavy composite jumped 51.38 points or 2.01% to 2,612.98, bolstered by Cisco’s long ball and a strong market outlook.

"Cisco’s news really gave us positive momentum," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer with Oaktree Asset Management.

The tech giant’s 4Q profit jumped 25% as it continues to see not only strong sales of routers and switches, but an increase in sales from other parts of its business model that is tied to an ongoing boom in multimedia online content.

The San Jose, Calif., networking gear maker made $1.93 billion, or 31 cents a share, for the fiscal fourth quarter ended July 28, up from the year-ago $1.54 billion, or 25 cents a share. Revenue rose 18% to $9.43 billion from $7.98 billion a year earlier, topping the Street.

"Cisco," said CEO John Chambers, "delivered another record quarter with great execution across the company." And, "Again, the performance was based on our balanced approach across products, services, geographies and customer segments and our ability to catch and execute on key market transitions."

But unlike last May when the company sold off on a great quarter, this time Cisco got a little more love. Shares of the company climbed $2.09 or 7% to $31.78 on the news.

Take a look:


That represents a new 52-week high for a stock that has already surged more than 75% in value in the past twelve months. In fact, the stock is now at its highest level since the tech bubble burst.

So what was the different this time? The company guided higher and that made all of the difference in the world.

In a conference call with analysts, Chambers said, "After careful consideration, and watching these trends over three years, we have decided to increase our expectations."

"We are also assuming, in this long-range guidance, as well as in our quarterly and yearly guidance," Chambers added, "that our vision of how this industry will evolve will be accurate and we will execute on that vision."

To the Street, it was all music to their ears.

For the current fiscal year, Cisco now expects revenue to grow between 13% and 16% from the recently ended period. That implies an expected revenue range of $39.46 billion to $40.5 billion. Wall Street analysts, meanwhile, had been looking for revenue of $39.7 billion for the year.

Additionally, according to Chambers, Cisco now expects annual revenue to grow between 12% and 17% for the long term, which represents an increase over the company’s previous long-term growth rate of 10% to 15%

Not surprisingly, Bear Stearns upgraded the stock following Tuesday evening’s fiscal fourth-quarter report, citing an increasingly diversified revenue stream. Bear now rates the company an outperform.

Part of that diversification, of course, includes the company’s advanced technology segment, which includes home networking, video conferencing, and set-top cable TV boxes. Those segments surged 24% for the quarter, compared with the 14% growth in the company’s flagship router department.

So in a week when one mortgage wave after another swept over the markets, tech’s ultimate bellwether offered up a ray of light.

In fact, when asked by an analyst if Cisco was seeing any weakness due to credit markets and mortgage industry failures, Chambers was quick to say no.

"In 30 years," Chambers said during a conference call, "this is the strongest global economy I’ve been a part of."

Tech is headed higher. You can bank on it.

By the way: Cisco has been in the Quantum Confidential portfolio since last December. We recommended it to our readers when was it trading at $25.50. Since then the company is up 23%. To learn more about Quantum Confidential and our latest tech winner click here.

Wishing you happiness, health, and wealth,

Steve Christ, Editor