SAN JOSE, Calif. (


) -- Expectations are high for


(CSCO) - Get Report

, which reports third-quarter results later today. Cisco, which investors hope will be able to tap the economic rebound and continue its recent sales and profit growth, is seen as

well positioned for an upswing in IT spending


Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expect Cisco to report revenue of $10.24 billion and earnings of 39 cents a share, up from $8.2 billion and 30 cents a share in the prior year's quarter.

Investors are also warming to Cisco in the run-up to its results later today. The company's stock had gained 64 cents, or 2.47%, to reach $26.60 by late morning, outpacing the broader advance in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq rise 1.2%.

Cisco Systems chairman and CEO John Chambers

Hot on the heels of strong results from tech bellwethers such as


(IBM) - Get Report



(INTC) - Get Report

, Cisco is expected to reap the benefits of a much healthier economic environment. Analyst firm Forrester, for example, has predicted that U.S. IT spending will grow 6.6% in 2010 to $568 billion, more than twice the rate of GDP.

"Our checks in the quarter pointed to a solid demand environment for networking products in general and Cisco in particular, though not as strong as some other enterprise hardware categories such as servers and storage," wrote Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski in a note released earlier this week. Continued component shortages, however, seem to have capped Cisco's upside, she added.

Jankowski nonetheless predicts Cisco sales of $10.2 billion, roughly in line with Wall Street's estimates, and earnings of 40 cents a share, slightly above consensus.

With Cisco pushing into new areas such as servers and video, however, rivals

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) - Get Report and Juniper (JNPR) - Get Report are increasing their attempts to lure users onto their own networking products


"We continued to receive feedback from the channel and from enterprise customers that Cisco has been more aggressive on pricing in response to the rising competitive threat in the switching market from HP and Juniper," wrote Jankowski. "In some cases Cisco's products appear to no longer carry a significant premium to the competitive offerings."

Cisco formally cut its partner links with H-P earlier this year

, signaling an all-out war between the two tech heavyweights. H-P was less than thrilled when Cisco entered the server market with the launch of its UCS offering last year, effectively stepping on the server maker's toes.

Cisco has been certainly been busy in the last few months,

ramping up its UCS server efforts


unveiling its much-hyped CRS-3 router


throwing yet more weight behind its video strategy


Earlier this year

Cisco CEO John Chambers told TheStreet that the video revolution is gaining critical mass

, a trend which will feed demand for the company's core networking products.

Cisco has also remained popular with investors, and the company's stock has risen 13.68% in the last 6 months. H-P's stock, in contrast, dipped 0.68% over the same period.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York


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