Cisco beats expectations
Cisco, the networking giant, exceeded expectations in its fiscal third-quarter results, reporting a revenue of $14.6 billion, a 14% YoY growth. The company's GAAP gross margins improved to 63.4%, reinforcing confidence in raising their annual profit forecast.
Despite these positive figures, the stock price experienced a 4% drop during after-hours trading due to a revelation made by the chief financial officer during a conference call. It was disclosed that Cisco's orders had declined by 23% year-over-year in the quarter, following a 22% decrease in the previous quarter, raising concerns about future growth prospects. While executives initially predicted sales growth of at least 10% for the current fiscal year, they expressed a more conservative outlook, projecting "modest" sales growth for the following year.
Chief Financial Officer Scott Herren attributed the decline in orders to customers absorbing prior shipments before placing new ones and a reduction in fulfillment time resulting from shorter lead times. He emphasized that customers were exercising prudence, which was a sentiment shared by other CFOs across various companies. Herren also highlighted that Cisco's order cancellation rates were significantly lower than during the pandemic.
Moreover, Cisco expects its earnings to increase by implementing cost management strategies. Herren affirmed the company's commitment to prudent spend management in 2023. Unlike some of its larger tech counterparts that underwent staff reductions after a period of heavy hiring during the pandemic, Cisco managed to maintain its workforce stability due to its cautious hiring practices.
Cisco experienced impressive business performance with a 29% increase in its secure agile networks segment. Switching revenue also demonstrated strong double-digit growth, thanks to the success of Catalyst 9000 and other software-based network offerings. The company's emphasis on expense controls and real estate consolidation, announced in November, contributed to improved margins.
Investors had high expectations for Cisco's performance, but JP Morgan analysts expressed concerns in a client note, anticipating a decline in orders during the fiscal third quarter. This decline would serve as clear evidence of weaker demand. If Cisco encounters demand issues, it may indicate broader challenges for the sector.