Cisco Systems (Nasdq: CSCO), the world’s largest maker of computer networking gear, said Wednesday that it’s set to eliminate thousands of jobs as part of cost-cutting moves to get profits growing again.

The company’s largest operation other than its California headquarters is located in Research Triangle Park. 

“There are no excuses, we must adjust quickly,” Cisco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Chambers said, according to Dow Jonws news. “We are, and we will.”

(Chambers sees cuts as “surgical,” not a “haircut” – read details here.)

The networking giant has been cutting back in recent weeks, eliminating 550 jobs and dropping a consumer videocamera product while also reorganizing some business units. Cisco also announced an early retirement program.

Cisco’s sales rebounded from the recession, but then started stalling in the middle of last year. In the past few months, Chambers has signaled that he’s accepting long-standing criticism that the company is trying to compete in too many markets. He has vowed to radically simplify the company.

In 2001, Cisco slashed its workforce by more than 6,000 as part of a $3 billion cost-cutting plan.

The company is still troubled: On Wednesday, it gave a financial forecast for the current quarter that was well below analyst expectations.

Chambers now wants to cut annual expenses by $1 billion, or about 6 percent.

He didn’t say how many jobs he’s aiming to eliminate, mainly through an early retirement program. If the percentage is similar to the cut in expenses, it could amount 4,000 to 5,000 of the company’s 73,400 employees, according to The Associated Press.

For the fiscal third quarter, which ended in April 30, Cisco said net income declined nearly 18 percent, earning $1.8 billion, or 33 cents per share. That compared with earnings of $2.2 billion, or 37 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding the cost of stock-based compensation and some amortization and asset impairments, earnings were 42 cents per share, unchanged from last year. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected earnings of 37 cents per share on that basis.

Sales rose 5 percent to $10.9 billion, matching analyst expectations.

This year’s third quarter was one week shorter than last year’s.

Shares fell slightly in after-hours trading. They had closed down 1 cent Wednesday at $17.79.

“This quarter played out as we expected,” Chambers said in a statement. “We have acknowledged our challenges. We know what we have to do. We have a clear game plan, and we are a company with a track record of market-shaping innovation. We thank our shareholders, employees, customers and partners as we transition to the next phase of Cisco.”

Read the full earnings report here.

This year’s third quarter was one week shorter than last year’s.

Cisco Systems Inc. has its headquarters in San Jose, Calif.

The company employs more than 4,000 people at its campus in RTP. 

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