Cisco (CSCO) - Get Report reported third-quarter earnings of 14 cents a share, edging out the 31-analyst estimate by a penny and up from the year-ago 9-cent profit. The data networking equipment maker posted sales of $4.92 billion, a 55% increase from the third-quarter 1999's $3.17 billion report. "This best sequential and year-over-year revenue growth for the last three years," said Brian Gilmartin, portfolio manger at Trinity Asset Management. "They've always been pretty conservative with their guidance and they said they're confident with their model."

Yesterday, Cisco shares skidded 7%, after a

Barron's

article raised doubts on whether the company could sustain its $470 billion market capitalization. "Their strategy looks risky, but they are executing and leverage their acquisitions through their brand," said Gilmartin.

For more on Cisco's earnings, take a look at the

story written by

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com's

joint newsroom.

To have bought

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

ahead of CEO Louis Gerstner's annual meeting with analysts last year would have been a beautiful thing. Then, Gerstner's revelation that 20% of IBM's sales came from e-commerce was enough to drive the stock up more than 10% the following day.

Don't expect the same thing to happen tomorrow morning, following Gerstner's address this evening before the analyst community at the Equitable Center in Manhattan. With the company coming off a couple of lackluster quarters, Sweet Lou was in relatively defensive position for much of the session, telling the crowd that the Y2K lockdown on corporate IT spending is a thing of the past. "We'll produce much better results as we move into the second half," he said.

On the positive side, Gerstner spent time pumping the company's initiatives in the middleware software, Web hosting and server segments -- the last of which it expects to bolster on Thursday, when the company will unveil a mid-range server based on the same copper-ship technology used it its high-end S-80 server.

Big Blue's boss offered no specific growth projections, but stressed that the company would maintain its long term target of "high-single-digit revenue growth and double-digit earnings growth."

No one's ever accused Gerstner of giving copy like

Sun Microsystems

frontman Scott McNealy. But the session was able to generate a couple of print-worthy quotes. On the subject of

Microsoft's

(MSFT) - Get Report

antitrust travails, Gerstner, echoing recent comments by McNealy: "I have nothing to say about Microsoft -- either one." Gerstner also offered a pointed response to the question of whether IBM would ever consider spinning off businesses in the form of tracking stocks, as

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

recently did with its wireless division. "I have no interest in tracking stocks," he said. "I mean, you either have a business or you don't. You either own it as a shareholder or you don't."

--

Thomas Lepri

In other postclose news (earnings estimates from

First Call/Thomson Financial

; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified):

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Citadel Communications

(CITC)

said its

Citadel Broadcasting

division has entered a $300 million cash deal to purchase 11 radio stations in the southern U.S. from

Dick Broadcasting

. Citadel also said that it would run another station's operations that were formerly managed by Dick.

Earnings/revenue reports

Abercrombie & Fitch

(ANF) - Get Report

said posted first-quarter earnings of 16 cents a share, in line with the 22-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 14 cent-profit. The clothing retailer warned however, that it would report second-quarter earnings between16 cents to 18 cents a share, falling below the 21-analyst estimate of 21 cents a share.

Jack In The Box

(JBX)

reported second-quarter earnings of 41 cents a share, a penny better than the seven-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 35-cent profit.

Maxygen

(MAXY)

posted a first-quarter loss of 3 cents a share, excluding stock-based compensation. The year-ago report was an 11-cent loss. The three-analyst estimate saw the company posted a loss of 27 cents.

Mentor

(MNTR)

reported fourth-quarter earnings of 34 cents a share, beating the nine-analyst estimate of 32 cents a share and up from the year-ago 19-cent profit.

Primus Telecoms

(PRTL)

reported a first-quarter earnings loss of $1.14 a share, narrower than the six-analyst estimate of $1.28, but wider than the year-ago 89-cent loss.

Teligent

(TGNT)

posted a first-quarter loss of $3.02 a share, narrower than the 10-analyst estimate of a $3.14 loss but wider than the year-ago $2.05 loss.

Whole Foods

(WFMI)

reported second-quarter earnings of 47 cents a share, in line with the 11-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 40-cent profit.