RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Leave it to an analyst to rain on a stock just when a company is announcing new product news.

Shares in Cisco fell some 3 percent, or 49 cents, to $16.74 on Tuesday following a downgrade in its stock by Soundview Technology Group. The stock went to neutral from outperform. Analyst Ryan Molloy told Dow Jones news service that he believes what pent-up customer demand there was for telephony and networking gear before the invasion of Iraq has now been erased.

Soundview announced the change before the markets opened. All the talk about that changed practically overwhelmed news that Cisco was seeking to expand its revenue base with a new line of products designed to deliver advanced networking services to small and medium sized businesses and schools at lower costs.

One of the big embracers of new Cisco technology is Wake County schools. Its network tying together more than 120 schools and offices is Cisco end-to-end. And before long Wake teachers and staff will be using Voice over Internet Protocol technology.

“With more than 2.5 million Web requests per hour, our job is to remove barriers to give students controlled access to learning resources,” said Vass Johnson, director of network systems for the Wake schools in a statement issued by Cisco as part of its product rollout.

Pardon the geek speak here, but follow along for just a moment.

“The common interface and centralized management of Cisco products offer improved total cost of ownership. Deploying the Catalyst 4500 Series chassis with the Supervisor Engine II-Plus gave us a high-density chassis in the wiring closet and the ability to provide the rich intelligent services and security we needed for our large student base. The Catalyst 2970 Series deployments allow us to affordably bring Gigabit Ethernet connectivity to smaller workgroup deployments like student labs, while the Catalyst 2940 Series allows us to now extend network connectivity to all classrooms because of its size, density and theft prevention options.”

The Catalyst series boxes are designed for smaller and medium sized businesses and schools that want more advanced network services, such as security, wireless and VoIP, but need less expensive hardware. And the 2940 series Johnson refers to allows schools to put high-tech networking in labs or conference rooms with as few as eight connectivity ports.

The Hunter Family Chronicles

Kudos to Samantha Thompson Smith and Jonathan Cox of The News & Observer for their breaking coverage of the rapidly evolving Cree/Hunter family soap opera.

On Tuesday, Samantha wrote about the Hunter family’s collective broadside against Eric Hunter, who is suing Cree for $3 billion.

Today, Jonathan strikes back with a stinging, exclusive rebuttal from Eric to concerns expressed about his mental health. “This is wild,” he told Cox.

Eric, one of the mental geniuses behind the firm’s creation, vowed that “We will not settle.”

“When we go to court there will be shock and awe,” he added.

The Hunter family wrangling and allegations about SEC violations made by Eric continue to pummel Cree’s stock. It dropped another 2.8 percent Tuesday to $15.78, down 45 cents.

Before all the legal fireworks began, Cree stock was selling at $22.21.

The wrangling led one observer to say – and this is a direct quote – in a chat room:

“What do you think Thanksgiven is like in this family??? $$$ not buying family unity here.”

The sky is falling?

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce is putting on a daylong event Thursday to examine the state of RTP’s dirty air.

Appropriately enough, the venue is the new EPA building.

And those who attend are being urged to, you guessed it, car pool.

Attendees also can expect tight security. Here’s the e-mail advisory sent to registered participants:

“Good morning. Thank you for participating in ‘Is the Sky Falling?’ Addressing Air Quality Challenges in the Triangle on Thursday, June 26 at the EPA in RTP. Please arrive by 8am for registration. You will need to present a photo ID at the EPA gate/guard station and report that you are attending the Air Quality Forum. It is advisable to allow a few extra minutes for check-in. Please note, you must be on the attendee list to be admitted; therefore, no last minute attendees can be added. We encourage carpooling.”

If there has ever been one succinct paragraph that captures the sate of our world today — security, environment, terrorism — this is it. Only things lacking were a comment about economic downturn and taxes.

Georgia toots its collective horn

At the BIO 2003 summit in Washington, DC, we hear that President Bush delivered a standing-ovation speech on healthcare. But competing actively for attention, too, has been Georgia’s biotech delegation. In fact, the Peach State reps issued a press release on Monday touting its ranking as No. 9 among states for biotech industry in a new Ernst & Young report even before the book hit the trade booths.

“The state of Georgia has long been home to some of the best talent in the life sciences industry and we continue to nurture and bring the best companies and ideas to the state,” said Jeff Strane on behalf of the state. “This ranking confirms that we are on the right track.”

His title? Director of Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism’s Office of Science and Technology.

Now that’s a mouthful.

North Carolina had a strong presence as well, The Skinny is told. More later.

An ‘oops’

In the race to get news online when it breaks, we sometimes make mistakes. In a story on Sony Ericsson on Tuesday, we left an “f” out of shift.

Some days are just crappy, you know.

My apologies.

An editor once told me never to use the word “T-shirt”. He was write.

I mean, right.

Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.