NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Whenever a major company that is publicly traded is about to step into the earnings confessional the rumors begin to swirl like a dust devil in the desert.So, in case you didn't notice the title of this article, which member of the DJI 30, a Dow stock that is down almost 7% year-to-date and currently offers a dividend yield-to-price of 3.3%, reports this Tuesday? No surprise if you answered Cisco Systems ( CSCO). The "surprise" may be in the numbers they report concerning last quarter's earnings-per-share and revenue numbers. It will reflect their first quarter of fiscal year 2013 earnings through Oct. 27. Then we'll all be closely listening for some kind of surprise guidance, either up or down, about the quarter ahead. John Chambers, the CEO of CSCO is a market-mover. When he speaks every analyst that's concerned about the economy and the tech sector listens with bated breath. A shareholder meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 15. Speaking of confessions, I want to own shares of CSCO so I can collect their tantalizing dividends that as of now represent a payout ratio of just 19 % of the company's earnings. CSCO has levered free cash (over the trailing 12 months) of $9.18 billion, so they can afford to be even more generous to their long-suffering shareholders. As of July 28 CSCO had operating cash flow of $11.49 billion. Part of the angst about Tuesday's (after the market's close) unveiling of this past quarter's year-over-year earnings growth has to do with the previous quarter's blow-out positive 56% (year-over-year) upside earnings surprise. At least guidance and expectations for the quarter to be announced has been guided downward. A consensus of 39 analysts who follow CSCO are anticipating earnings of 46 cents per share for the current quarter. This would be 3 cents higher than the same quarter last year. That doesn't appear to be overly optimistic. Analysts seem to be in near harmony that total quarterly revenue will be around $11.79 billion, representing a quarterly revenue growth (YOY) of a modest 4.6%. Out of the nearly 39 analysts only one has lowered both their quarterly earnings and revenue expectations for the quarter to be reported.
Another interesting fact to keep in mind is that CEO Chambers still owns over 2.623 million shares and Chief Operating Officer Gary Moore owns nearly 1.03 million shares. The Vanguard Group owns approximately 4.37% of CSCO's outstanding shares. That's around 232 million shares and is a stake worth close to $4 billion. If you're tempted to buy shares ahead of the earnings announcement one strategy you might employ is for every 100 shares you're buying, buy a November put with a $17 strike price that expires by the end of the week. Or play it safe and wait until you've learned the cold, hard facts of the last quarter as well as the guidance for next quarter and the year ahead. Either way you'll come out OK in the short run and hopefully have a nice total return between now and the end of January 2013. With its current 1.14 PEG ratio (5-year expected) and selling for just 8 times forward earnings, CSCO looks attractively priced. At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the companies mentioned. Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real money portfolio for his charitable trust- enjoy advance notice of every trade, full access to the portfolio, and deep coverage of the latest economic events and market movements.