) -- It was nearly a year ago when


(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report

chief John Chambers said high-flying sales were stalled by "air pockets," which further plunged to a succession of disappointing forecasts.

At first, Cisco seemed to be the

only player feeling the pinch

as governments and cable companies squeezed spending. And soon the focus was on Chambers and his huge

blunder into consumer electronics

-- WiFi routers and Flip video cameras.

Today, as most of the tech sector stumbles into that same a spending downturn, Cisco shares are tumbling but Chambers is catching a break.

Chambers, whose

leadership was in question

earlier this year, is now just part of a growing cast of executives trying to trim costs in an effort to steer through the macro economic challenges and a global financial crisis.

"I was never in the camp that called for John Chambers' ouster, but I think the market situation provides partial (emphasis on 'partial') vindication," said Morgan Keegan analyst Simon Leopold.

Chambers takes center stage Wednesday after the bell for Cisco's earnings call. While expectations are already very low for Cisco, some analysts suspect that the company may cut guidance again for an astonishing fourth consecutive quarter.

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Given the recent

weak outlooks

provided by gear peers like


(JNPR) - Get Juniper Networks, Inc. (JNPR) Report




, "we expect Cisco to provide guidance below the street," wrote Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum in a recent research note.

Being at the center of the world's computer networking industry, Cisco is "far from immune to current weakness," Gelblum said.

Cisco is expected to post adjusted earnings of 38 cents a share, down from the 43 cents reported in the year-ago period. Sales for the fiscal first quarter ended last month are expected to be $10.98 billion, a 1% increase over the $10.84 billion level a year ago, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Looking ahead, analysts expect Cisco to forecast roughly flat sequential targets for the current quarter ending in September. The consensus for the September quarter calls for a pro forma profit of 39 cents on $10.99 billion in sales.

But a big miss or another outlook disappointment isn't likely to put Chambers back in the hot seat. For one, he announced plans last month to

remove 11,000 workers

from Cisco's payroll for a $1 billion cost savings. And two: who could step in to replace Chambers?

"Unless one can identify a better candidate, it doesn't seem constructive to call for John's job," said Morgan Keegan's Leopold. "It feels like an emotional reaction to the flawed execution."

Cisco shares hit a new two-year low of $13.95 Monday and are now trading at nearly half the value the stock had in April 2010.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.To contact this writer, click here: Scott Moritz, or email: Scott on Twitter at MoritzDispatch