Wow. Cisco. Who would have thunk the stock would be back below $20 when the new bull market in technology is pushing many shares to new highs. CEO John Chambers is still smiling on TV, but you know he is seething behind the scenes.
Where to start… there are so many things wrong with Cisco right now I’m not sure what to pick first. On a technical market level, it’s clear to me that Cisco shares are being sold on strength. Last week’s puke-out in which Cisco lost 20% of its market cap came on gigantic volume.
On a strategic level, Cisco is adrift and its M&A strategy has been flawed. It has focused far too much on video and consumer products and less on cloud-computing infrastructure. I have been writing about this on Enterprise Efficiency.Cisco was buying flip-cams and settop boxes when it should have been focused on the cloud.
As a stock, Cisco is caught in a sort of no-man’s land. Clearly it’s no longer an aggressive growth stock, it’s now a value stock. But there are not a lot of technology managers that want to own slow-growth value stocks.
Cisco is getting so cheap (and rightfully so) — trading at a forward P/E multiple of 10 and with a enterprise value/cash flow under 10 — in theory it could be a takeover candidate. But that’s in theory. In practice, who has the money or even wants to spend $110B on a takeover?
Cisco demonstrates an idea I’ve been developing over the years which is there is no such thing as a technology value stock. The reason is that technology changes too fast, so values in the technology world are often traps. Once the technology starts to age and the company gets too large, newer companies are onto better things.
The bottom line is that Cisco has been beaten by smaller more nimble companies in many technology markets, its routing platform is becoming a morass of old spaghetti code — kind of like Microsoft Windows — and it’s become too big of a company to grow quickly. I really don’t know what John Chambers is going to do, but radical changes are needed.