What to Expect When Cisco Reports After the Close

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) is scheduled to release its fiscal fourth-quarter financial results after the markets close on Wednesday. The consensus estimates are calling for $0.82 in earnings per share (EPS) and $13.39 billion in revenue. The same period of last year reportedly had $0.70 in EPS and $12.84 billion in revenue.

With consideration to the ongoing trade war between China and the United States, investors are trying to figure out where their assets are best shielded from any fallout. That can be rather difficult when it comes to looking for U.S. technology companies without much China exposure. According to Merrill Lynch, Cisco is that U.S. tech giant with low China exposure.

Merrill’s Tal Liani sees the Cat9k upgrade cycle as still in the early innings for positive margin improvement, shifting the business mix to software and for lifting many of Cisco’s core businesses. The report also signals new opportunities with Wi-Fi 6 and SD-WAN likely to fuel the campus upgrade cycle into 2020. Liani also flagged Cisco’s relatively low exposure to China as particularly attractive in the current market environment.

As far as the low exposure to China, Liani noted that Cisco has been actively shifting contract manufacturing and pricing to offset the previous 10% tariffs on Chinese-produced goods.

Cisco shares hit multiyear and decade highs within the past month, while the Dow Jones industrials, S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 have all achieved all-time highs. With a changing business model in recent years, Cisco is finally living up to its status as a stock to own for a decade. The question now is whether Cisco is a stock to own for the next decade.

Excluding Wednesday’s move, Cisco had outperformed the broad markets, with the stock up about 22% year to date. In the past 52 weeks, the stock was up 20%.

A few analysts weighed in on Cisco ahead of the results:

  • Robert Baird has a Buy rating with a $57 price target.
  • Barclays has an Equal Weight rating and a $52 target.
  • Nomura has a Neutral rating with a $53 target price.
  • Merrill Lynch has a Buy rating with a $62 target price.
  • Tigress Financial has a Buy rating.

Note that Cisco is among the companies with the biggest corporate debt.

Shares of Cisco traded down about 1.5% at $51.91 on Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $40.25 to $58.26. The consensus price target is $58.91.