How Analysts Are Treating Cisco After Earnings and Guidance

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Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) reported its fiscal first-quarter earnings after the markets closed on Thursday, but despite beating estimates on both the top and bottom lines, this networking equipment and services giant still fell. As a result, a few key analysts decided to weigh in on the company and what could have possibly gone wrong.

The company had $0.59 in earnings per share (EPS) on $12.68 billion in revenue, compared to consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters of $0.56 in EPS on revenue of $12.65 billion. This quarterly report also compared to EPS of $0.54 and $12.24 billion in revenue reported in the same quarter in 2014. Deferred revenue was $15.2 billion, up 10% in total.

Merrill Lynch reiterated a Buy rating for Cisco with a $30 price objective, implying upside of nearly 13% from the current price level. The firm noted that revenues were in line, while EPS beat on strong gross margins and cost discipline, yet second-quarter revenue guidance was weak at 1% year over year, versus the firm’s 5%. Merrill Lynch further detailed in its report:

While global markets continue to be challenged, we think Cisco has a solid strategy, with a well-managed portfolio that addresses appropriate growth areas. Management expects growth to accelerate in the second half of 2016 as security returns to double digit growth, headwinds related to the transition from legacy to new switches diminishes, and revenues from acquisitions and partnerships begin to ramp. We also highlight the low valuation, dividend payout and aggressive buybacks as support factors for the stock.

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Oppenheimer also mentioned in its report that Cisco had a strong quarter, but the order growth disappointed, with guidance affected by foreign exchange (FX) headwinds and the removal of the STB business. Ultimately the firm maintained its Outperform rating with a $32 price target. Oppenheimer said in its report:

Overall, we’re encouraged by strong growth and positive commentary around security, collaboration, data center, and software and subscription-based solutions. However, the macro/FX headwinds have taken some of the wind out of Cisco’s sails this quarter and its ability to overcome them will be key over the next several quarters. Despite these headwinds, we remain positive and believe the company can execute better than competitors in the current environment. We’re updating estimates based on results/guidance and the sale of the STB business which drove the decline in our revenue estimates.

Wells Fargo maintained an Outperform rating despite a disappointing outlook, but there are still some reasons for optimism. The risk-reward remains attractive, with Cisco shares trading at less than 12 times the firm’s calendar 2016 EPS of $2.28 and offering a 3.2% yield in the after hours. The investment bank thinks downside risk is likely to be limited, and it sees potential for better results during the second half of the 2016 fiscal year. Wells Fargo moved its valuation range lower to $32 to $34 from $34 to $38.

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S&P Capital IQ reiterated a Buy rating with a $34 price target. The firm also reduced its EPS estimates to $2.27 in the 2016 fiscal year and $2.40 in the 2017 fiscal year. With positive sales gains in routers and switching products, the firm sees 3% revenue growth in fiscal 2016 and gross margins near 62.4%, unchanged. Share buybacks and a 3% dividend yield remain positives as well.

Credit Suisse reiterated its Underperform rating with a $22 price target, although the firm did actually raise Cisco’s estimates and said that it is performing well into a decelerating market place. The price target reflects accounting for restructuring and taxed net cash, which is reasonable in light of secular concerns the company faces and the accelerating pace with which they will impact Cisco’s fundamentals. The firm detailed in its report:

Tone confident but further deceleration already? The tone in terms of product deferred revenue on the product side was reassuring (management noted this increased to +16% year over year this quarter). However management noted some macroeconomic weakness, with Enterprise orders down 3% year over year. While switching growth was solid this quarter, we now see switching revenue growth of 1% year over year in the next quarter. We now assume switching revenue growth will decelerate to 1.9%/0.3% for fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017, respectively.

Shares of Cisco were last seen trading down 5.2% at $26.38, with a consensus analyst price target of $31.14 and a 52-week trading range of $23.03 to $30.31.

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