RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Don’t underestimate the power of the press, either in terms of negative or positive impact.

Cisco Systems, for example.

John Chambers and company have taken their share of media hits in the post-telecom and “dot com” bubble explosion. But Barrons and Fortune chose Cisco for some positive treatment in issues that came out at virtually the same time. And Cisco stock moved up a buck or two, partly on the news. Investors like good news. Not a bad bump, considering the stock is now around $14.

Here’s the Barrons headline:

“Last Man Standing: With its competitors ailing, a very flush Cisco is attacking on all fronts.”

If only the same could be said about Nortel, Alcatel, Lucent and the rest.

The story stemmed from Cisco’s recent shareholder meeting where some stockholders talked about getting a dividend. The Barrons writer pointed out that to even be talking about a dividend in telecom these days is remarkable.

“That paying a dividend is even a topic of conversation in these dark days is testament to Cisco Systems’ agility in dancing through the tech and telecom minefield. While the company has certainly felt the effects of slower corporate and carrier spending – quarterly revenue has flattened out at about $4.8 billion – the company has remained profitable through most of the downturn, including the last six quarters in a row,” Barrons said.

Here’s the Fortune headline:

“Can Cisco Dig Out Of Its Hole? John Chambers is a visionary; investors want a turnaround artist. This CEO might just be both.”

Not bad, either.

While the story did work in a few cracks at Chambers, its overall tone is very positive.

Here’s a sample:

“‘Most customers no longer buy our products for feeds and speeds,’ he said in his best West Virginia drawl. ‘They buy it for what productivity advantage we bring to their environment. To do that we have to be the best example, or one of the best, in the industry.’ As for Cisco’s problems? ‘A hundred-year flood,’ Chambers declared dismissively. ‘We got surprised. I wish we had been smart enough to avoid that, but once we were surprised, we executed pretty well against our peers.’ Translation: Don’t blame me. Blame the economy, stupid.”

To read the Fortune story, go to:

www.fortune.com/indexw.jhtml?channel=artcol.jhtml&doc_id=210446

Here’s the link to Barrons:

www.online.wsj.com/barrons/barrons_cover

Rebound for telecom?

Speaking of telecom — Analyst firm Frost & Sullivan is forecasting that the battered telecom sector will rebound next year. But don’t expect a return to the boon times, either.

“I don’t think you’re going to see any more 1998s and 1999s of telecom companies shooting to the moon, in terms of stock prices or revenue growth,” analyst Rod Woodward told the E-Commerce Times.

For details, go to:

www.frost.com

Gridding at Gateway

Gateway Computers is taking grid computing into a new arena — its own stores. The PC manufacturer has announced that it is partnering with United Devices to link the some 7,800 PCs in its retail outlets and make their combined computing power available for use by other firms.

Is this a moneymaker? Christopher Willard, an analyst at IDC, tells The Washington Post that he is “pretty much withholding judgment” but adds: “They have nothing to lose and may have something to gain.”
By linking them to compute collaboratively, Gateway says it can generate 14 teraflops, or 14 trillion operations per second. That’s quite a supercomputer.

Interesting software trial

New federal digital copyright legislation designed to prevent the hacking of and then sale of means to circumvent software is on trial in San Diego. Dmitry Sklyarov, a Russian programmer for ElcomSoft, was arrested at a programmer convention for talking about ElcomSoft’s product to crack Adobe’s eBook program. Charges were dropped against Sklyarov in order to get him to testify against his employer. But cNet reports he testified for the defense on Monday. His remarks make for very interesting reading. Check out the story at:

news.com.com/2100-1023-976621.html?tag=fd_top

International libel via the web?

Barron’s magazine, which published a story that an Australian executive, Joseph Gutnick, considered defamatory, could be sued for libel in Australia.

According to Reuters, an Australian judge has ruled that Barron’s and its parent, Dow Jones, are subject to Australian law even though the firms are based in New Jersey and the story was published on the Barron’s web site. The judge says that Australian law, which Reuters reports is stricter than in the United States, applies since the story was read via the web in that country.

Media firms are watching the trial, Reuters says, because it “could set a precedent for other cases.”

Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.