Cisco Gets Stronger Demand for Gear: Earnings Preview

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Cisco ( CSCO) reports second-quarter results after the market close Wednesday amid a soft tech-spending environment, although Wall Street's hopeful of another decent quarter from the networking giant.

"Based on our supply-chain checks, we anticipate revenue and EPS to be modestly better than consensus at $12.1 billion and $0.48 in EPS," wrote Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee, in a recent note. Wu predicts relatively healthier demand in routers, services, wireless, security and data centers offset by more muted trends in switches and collaboration.

Sterne Agee has a "buy" rating and $23 price target on Cisco.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are looking for earnings of 48 cents a share and revenue of $12.06 billion, compared to 47 cents a share and sales of $11.5 billion in the same period last year. Looking further forward, analysts predict fiscal third-quarter sales of $12.22 billion and earnings of 49 cents a share.

Brian White, an analyst at Topeka Capital Markets, also expects a decent quarter from the San Jose, Calif.-based firm. "We believe Cisco will meet our 2QFY13 revenue estimate of $11.96 billion (Street is at $12.06 billion) but exceed our pro forma EPS projection of $0.47 (Street is at $0.48)," he wrote in a note released this week. "Our 2QFY13 sales projection reflects nearly 1% sequential growth and slightly better than the flat performance over the past five years for past January quarters."

Cisco's problems of recent years are disappearing in the rear-view mirror. Just two years ago, the company was on the ropes, pounded by weak consumer spending, intense competition and poor execution. CEO John Chambers, however, implemented a massive corporate overhaul in an attempt to build a leaner and more focused company.

This effort appears to be reaping dividends -- Cisco, for example, eased past Wall Street's estimates last quarter, boosted by strength in its U.S. enterprise and service provider businesses.

Still, though, there are lingering concerns about the enterprise IT spending environment, despite decent fourth-quarter numbers from rival Juniper ( JNPR) last month. CSCO Chart CSCO data by YCharts

"Our supply chain tracker and CIO survey suggest somewhat softer IT demand, which we think may modestly pressure Cisco's top line outlook," wrote Amitabh Passi, an analyst at UBS, in a note.

Nonetheless, Passi predicts that Cisco will meet or exceed second-quarter estimates as the company's management continues to reshape its business, exiting less lucrative markets and buying assets that could potentially boost margins and sales efficiency. "We would be buyers especially on any potential weakness given Cisco's compelling valuation and shareholder return profile," he added.

Cisco, which shuttered its Flip video camera business in 2011, is selling off its Linksys home router business. Last month, Playa Vista, Calif.-based Belkin announced its intent to acquire Cisco's home networking business for an undisclosed fee.

At the other end of the M&A spectrum, recent Cisco activity includes a $1.2 billion deal for cloud networking specialist Meraki, which followed a $125 million deal to acquire Cloupia. Last month, Cisco announced its intent to acquire Israeli network software specialist Intucell for $475 million.

Cisco shares, which have climbed more than 24% in the past three months, gained 0.1% to reach $20.99 in Wednesday trading.

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

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