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Cisco Shortfall Jolts Wall Street, sends shares falling again

(Bloomberg) – Cisco Systems Inc. warned investors with a warning that Chinese shutdowns and other supply disruptions would wipe out sales growth in the current quarter, renewing broader concerns about technology spending in a faltering economy.

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The outlook sent Cisco shares down as much as 19% in late trading and burdened shares in other network companies, giving a new blow to an already affected sector. Even before Cisco’s last fall, the stock was down 24% this year.

The question for large parts of Wall Street was whether Cisco’s forecast meant that customers would cut costs, but the network equipment giant said supply problems ̵[ads1]1; and not a reduction in spending – were the main problem.

“While these top-line numbers do not look good, it is a very simple explanation,” CEO Chuck Robbins said in a conference call with analysts. “Customers do not signal a real change at this time. There is no reflection of demand problems in our guide.”

Cisco is the largest manufacturer of enterprise networking machines and forms the backbone of the Internet. Investors see the outlook as a proxy for corporate spending on infrastructure, which is why the sudden shift was particularly jarring.

The company had forecast growth in the current quarter of around 6%. It said on Wednesday that sales would actually fall by 1% to 5.5% in the period ending in July. Cisco’s revenue forecast was also less than Wall Street’s predictions.

Cisco shares fell as low as $ 39 in late trading. This was followed by a 4.4% drop in regular trading on Wednesday, bringing the stock to $ 48.36.

Other network-related companies saw their shares fall after opening hours, according to the Cisco report. Juniper Networks Inc. fell as much as 9.6%, Broadcom Corp. fell as much as 4.3%, and Ciena Corp. fell as much as 12%.

China’s Covid-19 shutdowns have weakened supply lines, hitting companies ranging from Apple Inc. to Texas Instruments Inc. Wider chip shortages and the war in Ukraine have also disrupted Cisco and its peers.

Like many technology companies, Cisco began cutting ties with Russia after the country invaded Ukraine earlier this year. The company said Wednesday that stopping operations in Russia and its ally Belarus cost it about $ 200 million in revenue during the third quarter. Historically, the region, including Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, accounted for about 1% of total sales.

At the conference call with Cisco executives, analysts questioned whether the weak guidance indicated that customers are concerned about their own future prospects and have begun to cut spending.

Robbins insisted that demand remains robust. That said, the company does not expect supply shortages to be resolved in the current quarter.

The inability to obtain power supplies from China cost Cisco $ 300 million in sales in the third quarter, executives said. And even when the shutdowns end in China, the problem will not be solved right away.

The tone of the report was a stark contrast from three months ago, when Cisco said orders rose more than 30% for the third consecutive quarter. Since then, investors have become more concerned that inflation and fears of slowing economic growth will make customers more cautious. In the last quarter, the company said that order intake increased by 8%.

Although it is a much slower rate of expansion, it shows strong growth going forward for a company the size of Cisco, according to David Heger, analyst at Edward D. Jones & Co.

“I would be more concerned if that order number was flat or lower,” Heger said.

Cisco has implemented a non-cancellation policy on its orders within 45 days of the delivery date, according to CFO Scott Herren. Smaller customers, who tend to be the fastest to tighten their cost budgets, increased orders by 19%. The growth and the general low frequency of cancellations give the company confidence that there are no underlying demand problems, the Lord said in an interview.

Under Robbins, Cisco has sought to stimulate growth with updated hardware, as well as new services and software. The hope is to make the longtime king of network equipment less dependent on one-time sales of equipment.

The recent outlook marks a setback in that pressure. Excluding certain items, revenue will be 76 cents to 84 cents per share during the period, Cisco said. It can be compared to an average estimate of 92 cents.

For the year, revenue will grow 2% to 3%, the company said, compared to an earlier forecast of as much as 6.5%.

Revenue for the three months ended April was $ 12.8 billion, little changed from a year ago. Earnings per share, minus some items, were 87 cents. Analysts had estimated a profit of 86 cents on sales of $ 13.3 billion on average.

But without signs that orders are really declining, Wall Street may overreact to Cisco’s numbers, Heger said.

“Short of a large drop in demand, it seems the market is overcompensating,” he said.

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