Cisco falls on tepid networking gear demand amid AI focus

By Thomson Reuters Feb 15, 2024 | 7:53 AM

(Reuters) – Cisco Systems fell more than 4% premarket on Thursday after the networking equipment maker reduced its annual revenue forecast and rolled out job cuts as it battles sluggish demand from telcos and cable service providers.

CEO Charles Robbins blamed weak macro environment and said the company was “seeing a greater degree of caution and scrutiny of deals”.

“Things have gone from bad to worse, with Cisco drastically cutting FY24 expectations a 4th time as management overestimated that demand would return in F2H24, when the reality is we are in a networking downcycle ex-AI investments,” said James Fish, analyst at Piper Sandler.

Cisco, which said it would cut more than 4,000 jobs, lowered its annual revenue forecast to $51.5 billion to $52.5 billion from its prior projection of $53.8 billion to $55 billion.

The company was on track to lose over $9 billion in market value based on its share price of $48.05, if premarket losses hold.

Cisco has sought to counter the tepid demand for its networking gear by shifting to AI and cybersecurity. On Thursday, Robbins said AI chip leader Nvidia had agreed to use Cisco’s ethernet with its own technology that is widely used in data centers and AI applications.

“(Cisco ) pointed to nearly $3 billion in product ‘pipeline’ associated with projects that incorporate AI, up versus $1 billion a quarter ago,” Jefferies analyst George Notter said in a note.

“The traction is a positive for Cisco. Nonetheless, it’s still relatively small in the grand scheme of things for the company.”

Meanwhile, Cisco said it expects its $28 billion acquisition of cybersecurity firm Splunk to close in the first quarter or early in the second quarter, compared to the previously estimated third quarter.

Cisco trades at 13.10 times its 12-month forward earnings estimates, versus rivals Juniper Networks’ 16.36 and Arista Networks’ 34.78. A lower PE multiple indicates a more attractive investment opportunity.

(Reporting by Samrhitha Arunasalam in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)