Cisco Slightly Exceeds Q1 Profit Estimates

Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), the No. 1 maker of equipment that directs Internet traffic, Wednesday posted a profit and said sales were unchanged from the previous quarter amid weak spending by large corporate customers.

Excluding one-time items, Cisco's profit beat analysts' estimates by a penny.

"They were able to generate slightly more in terms of earnings than what people were expecting," said Henry Asher, president of the Northstar Group, a New York-based money management firm, which owns Cisco shares.

"They also scored some gains in market share," Asher said.

Cisco's stock rose to $13.56 in after-hours trading from a Wednesday closing price on Nasdaq of $12.96.

The San Jose, California-based company posted a net profit in its fiscal first quarter of $618 million, or 8 cents a share, compared with a net loss last year of $268 million, or 4 cents a share. It earned $772 million in the previous quarter.

Excluding one-time items, Cisco earned $1 billion, or 14 cents a share, compared with $332 million, or 4 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts were expecting Cisco to earn 13 cents a share before one-time items on sales of $4.81 billion, according to Thomson First Call.

Revenue in the quarter ended Oct. 26 rose 9 percent to $4.8 billion from $4.4 billion last year. Sales were even with the $4.8 billion reported in the previous quarter.

"I think most people were expecting Cisco to show a slight sequential decline in revenues, so coming in flat is a positive surprise," said Shawn Campbell, analyst with Northern Trust Corp.'s asset management arm, whose firm owns 54 million Cisco shares.

"This will help the tech market tomorrow, this is positive," Campbell said.

Cisco said larger corporate customers, also called enterprise customers, are spending cautiously, while the telecom segment continues to see lower spending amid the downturn. Enterprise customers account for about 80 percent of Cisco's revenue, with telecom making up the rest.

The company said cash flow from operations in the quarter was $1.1 billion compared with $1.6 billion in the previous quarter. Cash and equivalents was $21.2 billion at the end of the quarter, down slightly from $21.5 billion in the previous quarter.

Cisco's first-quarter results included a noncash $412 million impairment charge on certain publicly held equity securities in its investment portfolio.

Before the news, Cisco's stock closed up 27 cents, or 2 percent, at $12.96 in Nasdaq composite trading Wednesday. So far this year, the stock has fallen 28 percent, far less than the 57 percent decline by the American Stock Exchange Network index , an industry benchmark.