Cisco reported declines in revenue for the seventh consecutive quarter, yesterday. Its stock is down about 4 percent this morning. But Wall Street seems to mostly buy into the company’s plan to reposition itself as a software vendor.
Cisco reported total revenue for its fourth quarter 2017 of $12.1 billion, down 4 percent compared to the same quarter in 2016. It reported non-GAAP net income of $3.1 billion or $0.61 per share, down 3 percent compared to the same quarter last year.
For the full fiscal year 2017, revenue was $48 billion, down 2 percent compared to 2016. Fiscal year 2017 non-GAAP net income was $12.1 billion or $2.39 per share, up 1 percent.
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins emphasized gains in recurring revenue as he leads the charge to transition the company to more of a software focus with recurring license revenue.
“For the first time, over $1 billion or 11 percent of our product revenue came from recurring offers which grew 40 percent year-over-year,” said Robbins. “Overall, 31 percent of our total revenue was recurring and revenue from subscriptions now represents 51 percent of our software revenue.”
RBC Capital Markets analyst Mitch Steves wrote in a research note: “Positively, we note that 11 percent of product revenue is now recurring. Overall, it will certainly take time to shift about $50 billion in annual revenue into a recurring business model. However, we think the company is continuing to do an admirable job.”
For its guidance for the first quarter of fiscal year 2018, Cisco expects revenue declines between 1 to 3 percent year over year. And it predicts non-GAAP earnings per share in the range of $0.59 to $0.61.
Robbins touted the company’s new intent-based networking initiative, which it announced earlier this summer.
He said Cisco’s latest Catalyst 9000 switches “represent the foundation of our intent-based networking capabilities.” And he also highlighted intent-based networking’s security strengths. “The new network enables our customers to detect threats in encrypted traffic with unprecedented accuracy using Cisco’s encrypted traffic analytics and intelligence from Cisco’s Talos cyber intelligence unit.”
More than 200 customers having already ordered the new Catalyst 9000 switches.
According to Prashanth Shenoy, Cisco’s VP of marketing for enterprise networks, who spoke to SDxCentral in July, customers are required to purchase the accompanying software with the switches. But Cisco’s licensing program does offer levels. On the earnings call, Robbins said, “Our software value proposition in this portfolio is also compelling as the large majority of our customers are adopting the most advanced subscription offer available.”
Robbins also referenced three partnerships: with Apple, IBM, and Microsoft. “We plan to deliver the first enterprise security application on Apple iOS, and we’re integrating our comprehensive security portfolio with IBM’s Cognitive Security operations platform,” he said.
Cisco also announced in the quarter that it was implementing a software layer on its data center switches that gives Microsoft the flexibility to run its own operating system on Cisco’s hardware in Microsoft’s Azure infrastructure. “We’re collaborating together to enable businesses to build and host their IoT applications in Microsoft Azure while extending the power of those applications to the edge via Cisco’s leading Fog computing solutions,” said Robbins.
Cisco reported that its application centric infrastructure (ACI) data center switching platform had a record quarter, growing 38 percent.