Ahead of the Bell: Cisco

Cisco shares soar on strong fiscal 3rd-qtr results, optimism about future

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Cisco shares soared before Thursday's opening bell after the networking equipment company posted better-than-expected results for its most recent quarter.

Chairman and CEO John Chambers also said that the company is starting to see some encouraging signs in the U.S. and other parts of the world. In premarket trading, Cisco shares jumped $2.20, or 10.4 percent, to $23.41.

Citi analyst Kevin Dennean backed his "Buy" rating for Cisco shares and boosted his price target by $2 to $26. He said that amid a tough global economic environment, the company's execution "shines," pointing to its strong controls over operational expenses, smart product mix choices and continued boost from cost cuts.

But Janney Capital Markets analyst Bill Choi was a little more leery and backed his "Neutral" rating and $22 fair value estimate. He said that while Cisco does continue to execute relatively well in a tough environment, it's still affected by the ongoing economic uncertainty.

As a result, Choi said he doesn't recommend picking up shares until there are some signs of economic improvement.

Cisco's performance is widely regarded as a way to gauge the relative health of the technology industry. The San Jose, Calif., company sells its routers, switches, software and services to corporate customers and government agencies around the world.

In addition, Cisco's fiscal quarters end a month later than most other major technology companies, giving it additional time to assess economic conditions.

For the current quarter, Cisco said it expects further signs of a slow and steady recovery. The company forecast adjusted net income of 50 to 52 cents per share and said revenue will grow 4 to 7 percent, to $12.16 billion to $12.51 billion.

Analysts expect earnings of 50 cents per share and $12.46 billion in revenue.

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