Good Times Slow Down at Cisco

Even as it crows about record earnings, Cisco is showing signs of succumbing to the weak economy and missed analysts' estimates for the current quarter's sales.

"Europe and customer conservatism have gotten worse," CEO John Chambers said on the company's earnings call Wednesday. [Ed. note: Did he just blame his customers?]

The product book-to-bill -- the ratio of new orders to completed orders -- was "approximately one," for the third quarter, which ended April 28, Cisco officials said on Wednesday's earnings call. A book-to-bill higher than 1.0 indicates growth -- and when a company says it's "approximately one," it usually means "less than one."

Last quarter, analyst Mike Genovese of MKM Partners had noted that Cisco appeared to be weakening in the near term. Orders in the second quarter, which ended in January, were up 7 percent from the previous year's -- a substandard growth level, by Cisco's standards. (See Cisco's Half-Empty Glass.)

Orders did grow in the third quarter, but only by 4 percent compared with the previous year.

The weakness and order slowdown are reflected in Cisco's fourth-quarter forecast for revenues of $11.4 billion to $11.8 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected $12 billion.

Cisco shares were down $1.00 (5.3%) to $17.78 in early after-hours trading. The company's earnings forecast sent the stock down another 70 cents or so, for a total decline closer to 9 percent.

Cisco did get a chance to boast that it's no longer a punching bag for competitors -- partly the result of the company's massive restructuring. On the service provider side in particular, Chambers took a minute to trash-talk the competition -- which was novel, as Cisco's practice of even naming the competition is still relatively new. (See Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper.)

Specifically, he noted that for the March quarter, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) saw revenues down 6 percent and routing sales down 20 percent from the previous year. (See Juniper Reports an Upbeat Q1 Early and How Is Juniper Sizing Up for 2012?)

For its third quarter, Cisco reported revenues of $11.6 billion and net income of $2.2 billion, 40 cents per share. For Cisco's third quarter a year ago, revenues were $10.9 billion and net income was $1.8 billion, or 33 cents per share.

Non-GAAP net income of 48 cents per share beat analyst expectations by a penny, as calculated by Thomson Reuters .

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

digits 12/5/2012 | 5:33:31 PM
re: Good Times Slow Down at Cisco

NGN routing - 0% revenues growth year on year

Collaboration - 0% growth

Service provider video - 12% growth

Wireless - 20% growth

Data center - 67% growth


Cisco's biggest product type, Switching, was up 5% Y0Y.


Some interesting trends there!



Flook 12/5/2012 | 5:33:14 PM
re: Good Times Slow Down at Cisco

Could it be that Cisco isn't any longer getting the premium prices it is used to, especially now in a troubled global economy and increased competition?

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:33:13 PM
re: Good Times Slow Down at Cisco

That was my theory a few quarters ago, but it hasn't panned out -- margins got better. It looks more like a dropoff in demand. Whether that's due to buyers being worried about the macro-economy (as Cisco says) or other factors, is fair grounds for debate.

The point I've seen from a few analysts is that Cisco's fortunes have become very much tied to the economy, which is a consequence of being so ubiquitous. So, we're seeing the downside to that.

OpticalInvestor987 12/5/2012 | 5:32:45 PM
re: Good Times Slow Down at Cisco

From a Barclay's analyst.  I believe the pullback is overdone.


The company's worst guidance for the period "in a decade may be conservative. Our recent checks indicate demand is stable, not weaker." As such, "we believe ownership of the shares offers material appreciation if the economic picture is steady, downside protection should it not and good cash returns either way."

Sign In