Cisco Systems Inc. reported strong earnings and profit for its fiscal Q4 and FY2014, beating Wall Street expectations by a few pennies for the quarter. But its shares and outlook continue to be weighed down by flat revenue growth, largely attributed to weakness in the emerging markets and service provider markets.
As reported earlier in the Rayno Report, Cisco said it will undergo a major restructuring in 2015, which will affect as many as 6,000 employees. However, there was no mention of the timing of Chairman and CEO John Chambers’ retirement, which has been the subject of much chatter in the Cisco hallways, according to our sources.
Earnings came in slightly above expectations for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year, with the company reporting $.55 in non-GAAP earnings and $12.4 million in quarterly revenue. Consensus analyst estimates were $.53 in non-GAAP earnings and $12.1 million in revenue. Cisco’s fiscal Q4 and fiscal year ended on July 26, 2014.
On an annual basis, Cisco reported $2.06 in non-GAAP earnings (after special charges) for its fiscal year 2014 and revenue of $47.1 billion, which came in 3% lower than the prior fiscal year. That represents its largest non-GAAP annual earnings ever, which generated cash flow of $12.3 billion and a shareholder dividend of $3.8 billion for the fiscal year.
Cisco projected revenue to be flat to up 1% on a year-to-year basis for the next quarter.
Cisco shares fluctuated after-hours trading, first up a bit but then down later. Investors might want to see Cisco return to revenue growth before they get excited about buying the stock. With quarterly revenue flat year over year and the annual revenues 3% lower than they were a year ago, the networking industry remains stuck in the growth doldrums — perhaps some of that due to the advent of Software Defined Networking (SDN).
Some of the themes of the quarter including continued strength in the data center and North American enterprise markets and weakness in the service provider and emerging market countries.
Revenues in China were down an astounding 23%, where Cisco continues to be hurt with the Chinese government’s response to the discover of some technology companies having cooperated with the National Security Agency (NSA). China has moved to buying networking gear primarily from Chinese companies such as Huawei because of the association of U.S. companies with the federal government.
Overall, however, all emerging markets were down. “Emerging markets lost momentun in the quarter,” said Chambers. He said he didn’t expect any change in the near future, and things “might get worse.”
The service provider market was also very weak, down 9%. Chambers attributed to some of that to consolidation in the market and lower spending on Customer Premises Equpment (CPE). He also alluded to management changes in the group.
Chambers was most bullish about the data center and cloud projects. “I am very proud of our succes in the data center market,” he said, pointing to success in the server market and with the new Nexus 9K switch line.
The company highlighted progress in SDN, with the upcoming release of its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and the release of the Cisco WAN Automation Engine (WAE).
The company has shipped the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) and now has more than 60 paying customers, said Chambers.
In its earnings release, Cisco highlighted victories in Internet of Things (IoT) — which Cisco calls Internet of Everything (IoE). This includes signing a deal with Hamburg to create pilot projects in traffic, lighting, and infratructure networking and monitoring.
Other deals included letters of intent with Kansas City, a deal on a innovation center in Barcelona, Spain, and collaborations with the cities of Copenhagen, Albertslund and Frederikssund in Denmark.
Cisco continues to support its stock in the form of a dividend payments and stock buybacks. The company paid a cash dividend of $0.19 per common share, or $974 million in the quarter, and it repurchased approximately 61 million shares of common stock at an average price of $25.11 per share, for an aggregate purchase price of $1.5 billion. For the fiscal year, the company purchase approximately 420 million shares of stock at an average price of $22.71 and a purchase price of $9.5 billion.