Late in the quarter, the Trump administration provided greater clarity on its budget, which meant that departments in the federal government could resume spending on Cisco's products and services. As a result, public sector product orders increased 2% year-over-year during the third quarter, after declining 4% year-over-year in the prior period.
The results came as Cisco reported mixed fourth-quarter results late Wednesday. Shares of the network giant slid 2.1% to $31.64 in after-hours trading. The stock is up just over 7% so far this year, however.
The slump in federal government spending and "lack of budget clarity" caused Cisco to warn in May that revenue would fall 4% to 6% year-over-year. Public sector orders now seem to be resuming, though Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins cautioned on the earnings call late Wednesday that it could face similar questions about federal spending in the next 90 days. The House is set to review a budget resolution in September that will pave the way for mandatory spending cuts and possible tax reform.
"I would say in Q3 we had a real lack of clarity around budgets," Robbins told investors on the call. "In early May we began to see the clarity with the continuing [budget] resolution...We saw some improvement. Not where we'd like for it to be but we saw some improvement particularly late in the quarter."
While federal spending turned higher, another Trump-related headwind continued to drag down one area of Cisco's product orders. Service provider orders fell sharply in the third quarter, partly as a result of Trump's rocky relations with Mexico. President Trump has publicly criticized Mexico and has ramped up talks of the country paying for a border wall.
The unit is in the "same state as last quarter," Robbins said on Wednesday, with service provider orders down 7% year-over-year.
"We didn't see any significant change," Robbins noted. "Again, that's largely driven by service provider weakness due to regulatory transitions as well as geopolitical dynamics and after renegotiation, etc."
Robbins added that product orders in emerging countries also continue to be a difficult market, citing "tremendous uncertainty and disparity" in terms of investments.