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Attention Carl Icahn: Cisco shareholders need a hero

Cisco (CSCO) is getting smacked around in early trading after the company posted yet another soft quarter and said it expects revenues to shrink between 6 and 8%. As usual there was a significant spread between GAAP and non-GAAP results. In addition to the $655 million one time charge Cisco took last quarter, the company says it will incur up to $550 million in pre-tax “restructuring charges” related to its previously announced workforce reduction plan.

In plain English Cisco expects to make between $1.95 and $2.05 for the full year as long as you don’t use generally accepted accounting principles. For sticklers who insist on using GAAP the company will earn between $1.43 and $1.49. Year over year revenues are expected to shrink regardless of how they are calculated.

Not to worry, Chairman and CEO John Chambers has a plan and was happy to lay it out on the conference call last night:

As we move into the next era of the Internet with our customers our commitment to you is to invest to sustain our industry leadership position while balancing the evolution in our business and very strong focus on shareholder return.

Like “earnings per share” Cisco’s definition of shareholder return is a little different than the norm. While Chambers is happy to boast about the company spending more than $6 billion on buybacks in the last six months, it’s done nothing for the stock. In fact, since Chambers added the title of Chairman in mid-November of 2006 CSCO shares have lost 6.6% including dividends.

Don’t cry for John, he’s been paid more than $90 million in cash and stock over the same period.

With $50 billion on the balance sheet and a billionaire CEO who’s been paid more than $90 million in cash and stock in the last eight years Cisco is simply begging for activists, pensions and just about anyone with a broker to start heckling the company at every available opportunity.

Consider this the first shot. Mr. Icahn, with Apple (AAPL) having done your bidding on the buyback and apparently set to release a new product I humbly submit that Cisco is now best available “no brainer” for your special brand value-adding activism.