RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – In a verbal battle between John Chambers and Wall Street analysts on Tuesday, the chief executive at Cisco maintained a smile and enthusiastic outlook but the analysts had their way, helping drive down Cisco stock in after-hours trading.

Chambers was enthusiastic throughout a conference call with analysts and reporters as he discussed Cisco’s quarterly earnings. The first report filed since closing on the acquisition of Scientific Atlanta included earnings of $1.4 billion, or 22 cents a share. Before removing certain items such as stock option expenses, the pro forma earnings of 29 cents per share actually beat analysts’ estimates by 3 cents.

The trouble started when Chambers, despite comments such as “Our business momentum is growing”, and company execs forecast fourth-quarter revenues of between $7.8-$7.95 billion. That forecast was in line with the analysts’ prediction of $7.87 billion.

However, Chambers’ bullish talk led analysts to expect more.

Mark Boslet, writing for Dow Jones Newswires, captured the sudden change of mood in the call quite succinctly.

“A strong third quarter led investors on Tuesday to expect even better fourth-quarter results from Cisco Systems Inc.,” he said.

“But the San Jose, Calif., provider of networking equipment didn’t nudge up its outlook for the July-ending period, and Wall Street’s enthusiasm faded.”

Cisco shares were trading up 3.5 percent in after-hours trading. The revenue forecast led to a 5.5-percent turnaround, or a 2 percent drop in the price. In the latest after-hours figures, Cisco was trading down 12 cents from the official closing price of $21.68.

Scott Moritz, reporting for, also noted the shift.

“But momentum in Cisco shares turned around when fiscal-fourth-quarter earnings and revenue guidance failed to impress investors,” Moritz wrote. “Cisco shares, up 27% this year going into the report, were down 2% in late action following the unchanged outlook.”

About the most positive news in covering the third-quarter report came from The New York Times:

“The report carried no surprises for Wall Street analysts, who were eagerly looking for signs that Cisco would be able to maintain its growth in the face of somewhat uncertain demand from telephone and other communications companies,” reported Laurie Flynn.

“It was slightly better than I was estimating,” Erik Suppiger of Pacific Growth Equities told Flynn. “Over all, it was a decent quarter.”

At one point responding to several revenue-related questions, Chambers responded: “If you are reading any caution into what I’m saying … we’re not sending mixed signals.”

Cisco stock is still trading near its 52-week high of $22 a share, which it hit on May 5. And the stock is up a whopping 27 percent since shortly after the deal to acquire Scientific Atlanta as Cisco made a warmly greeted play for on-demand and other video specialties.

What happens to the stock price in coming days as analysts digest Chambers’ comments and the forecasts will make for interesting reading.