Tech industry followers and investors breathed a collective sigh of relief Wednesday evening after Cisco Systems – the bellwether of the global tech sector – reported earnings and revenues that beat the Street.
The networking giant reported $11.7 billion in revenue and profits of 46 cents per share – slightly better than Wall Street analysts had expected at $11.6 billion and 45 cents per share respectively.
Cisco also rewarded shareholders with a 75 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to 14 cents.
The news sent Cisco shares up 5.5 percent, or 96 cents, to $18.31 in after-hours trading from Wednesday’s close.
“As a result of our strong performance, continued execution on our plan to deliver profitable growth, and commitment to shareholders, for the full fiscal year, we delivered revenue growth of 7% as well as a record year in revenue and earnings per share,” Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers said in a statement.
“Our strategy – delivering intelligent networks and technology architectures, built on integrated products, services and software platforms, to fuel our customers’ businesses – is proving the right long-term strategy for our success. There is no question that our industry and our world are evolving quickly and Cisco is squarely at the center of major technology market transitions — cloud, mobile, visual, virtual and social.”
Chambers went live on CNBC most immediately after the news was announced, calling it “a strong quarter.”
Chambers has cut jobs, shut businesses and reduced prices to win business lost to Juniper Networks Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. and combat a slowdown in Europe, which makes up a fifth of sales.
“Their growth is modest, so it’s not clear when they can start accelerating some of the top-line growth,” said Erik Suppiger, an analyst with JMP Securities LLC in San Francisco. “But they’re effectively keeping their profitability intact and taking some steps to return earnings back to shareholders.”
The company has had a lot of ups and downs in the last two years. Early last year, it was climbing quickly out of the recession, then hit a slow patch that was blamed on the company, not the economy.
“Cisco is doing all they can to control what they can control,” said Joanna Makris, an analyst with Mizuho Securities USA Inc. The results suggest demand for networking gear “is not that bad.”
The financial news is good for the Triangle since Cisco operates its second largest corporate campus in Research Triangle Park,
Chambers started slashing jobs and narrowing the Cisco’s focus, a strategy that started bearing fruit late last year. Signs of recovery started appearing in the quarter that ended in October, and the quarter that ended in January confirmed them.
Then, when reporting for quarter that ended in April, Chambers said the global economic turmoil was hitting it again, and it issued a forecast for the July-ending quarter that was below Wall Street expectations. The stock plunged and has stayed low.
As a maker of big-ticket capital equipment with an international reach, Cisco has a good window into economic trends, and analysts will be listening keenly to CEO’s commentary on the conference call on Wednesday afternoon.
The company closed on the acquisition of digital video technology company NDS Group Inc. at the end of the quarter. Not all analysts have updated their forecasts to include results from NDS, which could cause some confusion. The $4 billion deal is Cisco’s first major acquisition since it bought Norwegian teleconferencing company Tandberg in April 2010.
Analysts polled by FactSet expect Cisco to report earnings of 46 cents per share, excluding items and the cost of stock-based compensation. That’s at the high end of the company’s own guidance of 44 cents to 46 cents.
Analysts expect revenue of $11.63 billion, slightly above the midpoint of the company’s own estimate of $11.42 billion to $11.75 billion.
A year ago, Cisco reported net income of $1.2 billion, or 22 cents per share, on revenue of $11.2 billion. Adjusting for severance charges and the cost of stock-based compensation, it earned 40 cents per share.
(Bloomberg and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)