Frank Calderoni

Don't mistake Cisco's quarter for a rising tide

November 5, 2009: 7:00 AM ET

Cisco's growing again, and CEO John Chambers has called the beginning of a tech recovery. But don't assume this is the proverbial rising tide that's going to lift all boats.

First the good news: Cisco (CSCO) turned in a bang-up quarter. For the three months that ended on October 29, the seller of networking gear managed $9 billion in sales and 35 cents per share in profit, both of which outpaced even the most optimistic analyst expectations. Even better, Chambers said the current quarter will also shape up nicely – a promise that sent Cisco stock up a healthy 3% after hours.

But even in Cisco's celebration, there were hints of caution. Though he signaled good results for this quarter, Chambers wasn't willing to set sales and earnings targets for the rest of fiscal 2010, saying it's too soon to assume that this recovery has legs. He asked analysts to maintain their ho-hum expectations for Cisco's financial performance, despite his apparent optimism – basically requesting that they keep the bar low, even though he feels more confident that he can clear it. More

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