Three years after Cisco CEO John Chambers said he's looking to retire, he remains coy about when he's actually going to do it.
Goldman Sachs financial analyst Simona Jankowski teed up the retirement question in Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s quarterly earnings call Wednesday, in which the networking giant reported its second consecutive quarter of growth after multiple quarters of declining revenue. (See Cisco Sees Strong Quarter Despite Carrier Weakness.)
"You obviously had a good quarter," Jankowski said. But Chambers's "tone is even more bullish than the numbers would suggest."
Chambers said business is good across the board (with the exception of service provider sales, which were down 1%) and customers are enthusiastic.
"Mel told me not to be too enthusiastic on the call," Chambers said, referring to Melissa Selcher, Cisco vice president, analyst and investor relations. "I went out and ran four miles this morning. I had my best time in the last year. Lifted weights successfully. And I'm sorry Mel -- I'm full of energy. It's exciting what's in front of us."
That set up the question about Chambers's retirement.
Chambers, now 65, said in 2012 he'd retire in two to four years, and reports swirled in the spring that his retirement was imminent. (Obviously, that didn't happen.) (See Is Cisco's Chambers Retiring in the Fall?)
Following Jankowski's question, JP Morgan financial analyst Rod Hall asked Chambers to update retirement plans.
Chambers declined. "The next time you hear, Rod, about the change will be when we announce it. And that hasn't changed overall," Chambers said. "We'll make this a non-issue as we make the transition."
And then Chambers dropped to the floor and snapped out a series of one-arm push-ups.
OK, we're making that last part up. On the other hand, we weren't there -- we were just listening in on the earnings call -- so we can't swear that it didn't happen.
Chambers' coyness was like this: