Cisco (CSCO) - Get Report CEO John Chambers sees the U.S. economic downturn lasting at least three more quarters, according to the Financial Times.

"We thought this

downturn would last for two quarters. Now we are saying that it will last for at least three quarters," Chambers said in an interview, according to a story on the newspaper's Web site Sunday. "The slowdown that we saw in January is continuing in February and March. We have seen the issues expand to Asia-Pacific and we see the early signs in Europe."

The comments are similar to what Chambers

said earlier this month at a

Merrill Lynch


"We are not seeing a turnaround," Chambers said then. At what was then six weeks into the networking giant's fiscal third quarter, he said, "We see the same slow growth we saw in January."

Chambers rattled tech investors Jan. 10 when he conceded that Cisco was worried about the effects of an economic slowdown on its business, a slowdown that the company later held responsible for its first earnings shortfall in three years. Cisco had long contended that it would remain immune to the ills of the industrywide spending pullback and the slowing economy.

Meanwhile, analysts have been speculating about how rough things are for the computer networking giant.

UBS PaineWebber

estimated recently that Cisco's sales were down somewhere between 10% and 30% across most of its businesses already this quarter.