Cisco – What Happened and What Is Next

I recently wrote an article on Seeking Alpha on Cisco, which can be found on this link.  The key points in the article are as follows:

Cisco really surprised Wall Street when it reported last week as its guided to a decline in revenues of 8%-10% year over year. Cisco has never reported such a decline when the US is not in a recession. With US GDP growth improving in the past three quarters, but Cisco’s orders decelerating, the guidance Cisco provided is disturbing.

The weak guidance is likely due to three main points:

1. Cisco is not focused on growing its set top box business, as the company de-emphasizes lower margin solutions/products for the home given the exit of its Consumer business a few years ago and the sale of its Linksys home networking business.

2. Cisco if facing major product transitions in high end switching and routing that are likely to impact year over year sales growth for 2-4 quarters.

3. Cisco is fighting an emerging but significant battle against cloud commoditization as Amazon and other cloud operators deploy lower cost “white box” networking equipment rather than traditional equipment from companies like Cisco.  Of the three issues Cisco is facing, this is the one that investors will focus on the most longer term in determining whether to invest in the stock or not.  Cisco’s recent launch of Insieme/ACI is how the company plans to attack the threat of “white box” networking.

Cisco’s weak guidance and commentary that business slowed at the end of the quarter combined with overall finished goods inventories being slightly up sequentially is likely to lead to Cisco managing down inventories in the next quarter. This may result in lower than expected orders to Cisco’s supply chain.  Suppliers and contract manufacturers that are exposed to Cisco could be impacted by these reduced orders.  Supply chain companies that recently have had high exposure to Cisco include Cavium, EZchip and Finisar, although it is fair to say these stocks have already been hit post Cisco’s results and may be discounting the bad news.

3 thoughts on “Cisco – What Happened and What Is Next

  1. Nikos,

    Great post and spot on but what is the answer? Here my 3 points:

    1. Cisco should have NEVER entered the consumer space (not a hindsight issue, was a dumb move, period!);
    2. Lacks technology leadership (also see Arista Networks); and
    3. Chambers been there too long, time for him to enter politics!

    Solution: Cisco is just too big proving once again that bigger is neither better nor nimbler.

    Break the company up and allow each group to compete by being nimble, like Cisco was in the good ‘ol days before it got arrogant and entered markets it had no business pursuing. Best..–bb

    • All good points. Breaking up Cisco, however, is not what the board wants to do. It will take a lot more pain. Look at HP and Microsoft. Investors have been clamoring for them to beak up for a while with no luck so far.

  2. Seen this movie before and it always ends the same – unhappy ending! In the case of Microsoft Bill Gates’ ownerhsip is the key factor there but not for both HP and Cisco. It will take leadership, which has been lacking at both companies for some time. Best…–bb

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