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Cisco's Slump Not as Bad as Wall Street Thinks

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Cisco (CSCO - Get Report) shares plunged in early Thursday trading, losing 7.5% after it reported earnings that beat consensus, but concerns about the global recovery remain. However, it's not as bad as investors are making it.

First-quarter guidance was a little weaker than what Wall Street was expecting, but concerns over job cuts and the global recovery are pulling shares down sharply. On Cisco's earnings call, CEO John Chambers said the economic recovery is showing mixed signs. "The environment is improving slightly, but nowhere near the pace that we want," Chambers said.

The company also announced it would be cutting 4,000 jobs amid a restructuring program.

For the fiscal fourth-quarter, Cisco reported earnings of 52 cents per share on $12.4 billion in sales, up 6% year-over-year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected Cisco to earn 51 cents a share.

Despite the sharp decline in shares, it's not all bad. UBS analyst Amitabh Passi, who rates shares "buy" with a $28.50 price target, noted that the company is still executing well amid the weak economic recovery. "CEO Chambers noted economic recovery was slower and more inconsistent than expected," Passi wrote in his note. "With this backdrop, we believe Cisco is executing well, meeting/exceeding margin, EPS, and capital return targets, with mgmt noting $1m deals rose 50% y/y. While macro softness could stall some share momentum, we see Cisco well-positioned among leading IT providers and retain a Buy rating."

There were some bright spots during the quarter, with video product sales rising 23% year-over-year, wireless access points rising 32% to $637 million and data center equipment rising 43% year-over-year. Yes, there were a couple bleak spots, including Next Generation Routing sales showing flat growth at $2.09 billion, and collaboration tools falling 2%, but the cautious tone is hurting the stock, notes BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Long, who rates shares "outperform," with a $29 price target.

"The quarter itself was fine and even guidance was okay, albeit a little on the light side, but management's more cautious tone and the announced layoffs suggest it could take some time before growth picks up again," Long wrote in his note. "In the end, our estimates are not changing all that much, but the multiple will take a hit given how strong the stock has been YTD."
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