This time around the Cisco ( CSCO) rally just doesn't have the same legs. The data-networking king posted modest gains Wednesday, in the wake of Tuesday's solid fourth-quarter financial results and modest growth projections. The upbeat-sounding message was enough to put Wall Street in a buying mood early -- but only briefly, as some observers quickly resumed wondering just how bullish the telecom equipment industry's ongoing Cisco squeeze really is. Only a few years ago Cisco was one of the market's hottest stocks and one of Silicon Valley's fastest-growing companies. But the collapse in recent years of information technology spending has meant that even a big, well-bankrolled company can't give investors what they want right now: a plausible growth story. "They did the best job they could in a pretty tough market," says CIBC World Markets analyst Steve Kamman, who rates the stock buy. "But their guidance for the next quarter is relatively flat, and the quarter after that is likely to be relatively flat. And if you think about 2003 IT spending budgets, service providers will probably be down and enterprise at best will be flat."