Cisco shares tanked 10% in after-hours trading on Wednesday following an earnings call in which it announced only 2% year-over-year growth and issued a profit warning going forward.
Trading in Cisco shares will be off to a rough start in trading Thursday morning, as many analysts expressed surprise and dismay at the depth of the earnings miss.
The company said revenue grew only 2 percent to $12.09 billion in its fiscal first quarter ended October 26, from $11.88 billion in the year-ago quarter, missing analyst estimates. Cisco reported fiscal first-quarter profit of $2 billion, or 37 cents a share, compared with a profit of $2.1 billion, or 39 cents a share, for the year-earlier period.
More importantly, forward guidance came in below expectations, adding to the investor incredulity. Cisco officials said second-quarter earnings per share (EPS) would be in a range of 45 cents to 47 cents and forecast EPS of $1.95 to $2.05 for the full fiscal year 2014, which will end in October. That is below analyst consensus estimates of .52 cents for the next quarter and $2.10 for the year, according to data from Capital IQ.
Company officials cited a number of challenges in the business, including tough global macroeconomic issues, a fall-off in foreign business following the National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal, doubt cast on business by the U.S. federal government shutdown, and general weakness in emerging markets.
Cisco CEO John Chambers called the macro-economic environment “uneven” and “hard to read.”
“We are managing through several cycles in our business,” said Chambers on the company conference call. “First, emerging market weakness; second, the introduction of several new generation platforms in high end switching and routing; and third, our service provider of business evolution.”
Here’s a list of some of the problems as characterized by Cisco officials:
- Revenue in its five largest emerging markets declined 21 percent. Cisco executives attributed part of this to foreign uncertainty generated about the U.S. networking manufacturer because of the NSA spying scandal. Other parts of it were, well, just declining business in emerging markets.
- Revenue fell 30 percent in Russia and 18 percent in China.
- There was a 13-percent decline in service provider revenue, which attributed to a transition to a new router launch
- Softness in government revenue attributable in part to the October government shutdown. Chambers said the government shutdown cost Cisco about $50 million in sales.
Despite all of the grim news, the company looks prepared to buy any sales in its stock. The board has authorized up to $15 billion in additional repurchases of its common stock.