Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO) Stock Is Screeching to a Halt


Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) is starting to decelerate, and the timing couldn’t be worse. Investors are already jittery about tech stocks because of the election of Donald Trump, and Cisco stock is feeling the brunt of a crowd that’s ready to sell off at the drop of a hat.

Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO) Stock Is Screeching to a Halt

CSCO, also a bellwether for the sector, is off about 5% in after-hours trading.

The fiscal first-quarter numbers weren’t that bad. Revenues came to $12.4 billion to beat consensus expectations of $12.33 billion. And the company earned 61 cents per share to beat the estimates by 2 cents.

Guidance was a different story.

Cisco projects earnings of 55 cents to 57 cents per share on a 2% to 4% decline in revenues in its fiscal Q2. The Street was looking for 59 cents per share in profits, on a 1.8% improvement in revenues.

Some highlights of the quarter:

  • Cisco agreed to purchase CloudLock (a security provider), ContainerX (a company focused on so-called container management technology) and Heroik Labs (a software developer that focusing on building apps for improving productivity of meetings).
  • Cash in the bank is now at $71 billion, up from $65.8 billion for the same period a year ago.
  • The company repurchased 32 million shares of Cisco stock during the quarter, for a total of about $1 billion.

UPDATE: Cisco stock had a nice run in 2016, with 16% returns. So some of tonight’s selling is probably profit-taking at work.

But the uncertainty regarding the political environment likely will have an impact. If anything, America’s companies will want to get a sense of the focus of the Trump administration — which should lead to a delay in making major IT expenditures.

Why Cisco Stock Holders Should Worry, But Not Panic

But that doesn’t necessarily mean Cisco stock is completely doomed because of Trump. In fact, some of his policies could be extremely positive for CSCO.

The potential for repatriation is exciting, considering that Cisco has $61 billion stashed overseas. That could power share buybacks, dividends (tacking on to the already attractive 3.3% yield, or a big special payout) and M&A.

CSCO stock also sports a modest valuation of just 12 times forward earnings estimates, vs. 18x for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and 14x for Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL).

Cisco also should benefit from a number of strong-growth markets. Remember: CSCO has footholds in categories like cloud-based collaboration, data center applications, mobile and security. These businesses should help alleviate some of the pressures from the core switching and router segments, which continue to come under pressure from low-cost providers. Even companies like Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) have been creating their own networking platforms.

Even then, Cisco isn’t facing some kind of massive disruption. CSCO has many advantages, such as a long history of innovation with networking as well as a powerful global infrastructure.

It also helps that there should be more growth for equipment and software because of megatrends like streaming video, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the internet of things. According the Cisco’s own research, the amount of mobile traffic is forecast to surge by 8x from 2015 to 2020, representing a 53% compound annual growth rate.

Cisco also is fairly disciplined with its spending, including the recent announcement of a 7% global workforce layoff (about 5,500 employees). And as a result, CSCO did report strong operating cash flows of about $2.7 billion.

If you have a multiyear time horizon, Cisco stock still is an attractive play. When the nervousness starts to subside, consider making a play on CSCO.

Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook and also has his own tax preparation firm. Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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