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Ahead of the Bell: Cisco to report 3Q earnings

NEW YORK (AP) -- Cisco Systems Inc., the world's largest maker of computer networking equipment, is expected to report continued progress when it reveals its latest financial results Wednesday.

Cisco had been coming nicely out of the recession, but it ran into problems a year and a half ago. Competitors were nibbling at its core markets, and Cisco's approach looked scattershot.

CEO John Chambers started slashing jobs and narrowing the company's focus, a strategy that started paying off late last year. Signs of recovery started appearing in the quarter that ended in October, and the quarter that ended in January confirmed them.

For investors, the celebration already appears to be over. Cisco shares climbed 60 percent from August to March, but have retreated since then, possibly on macroeconomic concerns. As a maker of big-ticket capital equipment with an international reach, Cisco is sensitive to global economic swings. Its wide reach and sensitivity to business and government investment cycles make it something of an economic bellwether.

Analysts will be listening for the CEO's commentary on the conference call after the earnings report for the fiscal third quarter, which ended in April. It comes after the market closes.

Analysts polled by FactSet expect Cisco to report earnings of 47 cents per share excluding items and the cost of stock-based compensation on revenue of $11.6 billion, at the high end of the company's own estimate of $11.4 billion to $11.6 billion.

In the same period a year ago, Cisco reported net income of $1.8 billion, or 33 cents per share, on revenue of $10.9 billion. Adjusting for unusual items and the cost of stock-based compensation, Cisco earned 42 cents per share.

Cisco usually provides an outlook for the current quarter along with its report on the most recently completed quarter. Analysts are expecting earnings of 49 cents per share on $12 billion in revenue for its fiscal fourth quarter.