After the bell Wednesday, investors will look to Cisco (CSCO) CEO Chuck Robbins for progress on the networking giant's ongoing shift from hardware to software. Shareholders will also listen for hints on how Cisco would deploy its massive offshore cash stockpile if President-elect Donald Trump enacts a special corporate tax break on repatriated funds, as he promised to do in his campaign. 

Wall Street expects Cisco to earn 59 cents per share in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017 from $12.33 billion in sales, according to FactSet. George Notter of Jefferies observed in a report that Cisco has only missed analyst's consensus revenue forecasts once in the last 38 quarters. 

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Cisco has $60 billion overseas, according to UBS. "In our recent meeting, Cisco CFO Kelly Kramer indicated buybacks could be a priority over special dividends" if there was a corporate tax holiday, wrote UBS analyst Steven Milunovich in an earnings preview. "Assuming a 10% tax-rate and 50% of repatriated money used for buybacks, we believe Cisco could retire one-sixth of its shares."

Cisco has been emphasizing areas such as cyber security, cloud computing, the Internet of Things and next-generation data centers.

Reports from Citrix (CTXS) , NetScout (NTCT) , Ixia (XXIA) and Tata suggest that IT spending has been solid this earnings season, Jefferies analyst Notter noted.

Revenue growth from Arista (ANET) and Gigamon (GIMO) is positive for data centers, he added, though there are some bearish signs. Juniper (JNPR) and Intel's (INTC) data center results declined from the prior year.

Robbins may also report on Cisco's cost-cutting efforts. In August, the company said it would cut 5,500 staffers, or about 7% of the workforce.

On Wednesday morning, shares of Cisco were essentially flat at $31.72. Year to date, shares are up about 17%

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