How Cisco Managed to Surprise to the Upside

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Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) reported fiscal third-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Wednesday. The company said it had $0.57 in earnings per share (EPS) on $12 billion in revenue. That compares to consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters of $0.55 in EPS on revenue of $11.97 billion. The same period from last year had $0.54 in EPS on $12.14 billion in revenue.

Deferred revenue for the quarter was $15.3 billion, up 8% in total from last year, with deferred product revenue up 9%, driven largely by subscription-based and software offerings, and deferred service revenue up 7%.

In the fiscal third-quarter, the company completed five acquisitions which included: Jasper Technologies, Acano, Synata, Leaba, and CliQr. Most of these acquisitions were centered around developing Cisco’s cloud systems and its Internet of Things (IoT).

During this quarter, Cisco declared and paid a cash dividend of $0.26 per common share, or a total of $1.3 billion. At the same time the company repurchased roughly 27 million shares of common stock under its stock repurchase program for a total of $649 million.

In terms of the outlook for the fiscal fourth-quarter, the company expects to have EPS in the range of $0.59 to $0.61 and a gross margin in the range of 63% to 64%. There are consensus estimates for the coming quarter that call for $0.58 in EPS on $12.42 billion in revenue.

Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco, commented:

We delivered a strong Q3, executing well despite the challenging environment. I’m pleased with our performance today as well as the progress we’re making in transitioning our business to a more software and subscription focus, which we’ll continue to apply across our entire portfolio.

Cash flow from operations for the quarter totaled $3.1 billion an increase of 1% compared with $3.0 billion for the third quarter of fiscal 2015. On the books, cash, cash equivalents, and investments totaled $63.5 billion at the end of the quarter compared to $60.4 billion at the end of fiscal 2015.

Shares of Cisco closed Wednesday at $26.72, with a consensus analyst price target of $29.41 and a 52-week trading range of $22.46 to $29.85. Following the release of the earnings report, the stock was initially up 5.4% at $28.16 in the after-hours trading session on Wednesday.