He quickly cobbled together the “America First” slate, including candidates from states like Michigan, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. They began touring nationally, holding forums promoting election conspiracy theories, occasionally with leading members of the QAnon movement.
Suddenly, secretary of state races became premier attractions, elevating once sleepy, bureaucratic down-ballot races to the national spotlight. Donations, especially from alarmed Democrats, quickly flooded the races. Nearly $50 million was spent on television advertising in four states — Michigan, Arizona, Nevada and Minnesota — and Democrats had a 10 to 1 spending advantage.
The Democratic Association of Secretaries of State — which in 2019 had just one part-time staff member — had to be built on the fly. Jena Griswold, the secretary of state in Colorado and the chair of the association, hired seven full-time staff members and raised $25 million for the cycle.
“We really believe, and continue to believe, that these races have a tremendous effect on whether this country will continue to have a vibrant democracy,” Ms. Griswold said. “Or be able to have one at all.”
Polling races for secretary of state proved difficult, but concern began to grow among some Democrats as polls suggested that voters did not have democracy at the top of their list of concerns heading into the election.
But candidates like Mr. Aguilar said they heard about democracy issues daily from voters.
“People are tired of chaos,” Mr. Aguilar said in an interview. “They want stability; they want normalcy; they want somebody who’s going to be an adult and make decisions that are fair, transparent, and in the best interest of all Nevadans.”
Mr. Aguilar, a local businessman with deep ties to the Las Vegas business and gaming communities, announced his candidacy well before the primaries. He said that threats to fair elections weighed on him every day on the campaign trail.
We're bearish on Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) under the current macroeconomic environment. We're excited to see Cisco's earning report for its first quarter of FY2023 (expected on 16 November), but believe weaker demand under current financial stresses will gate-keep Cisco's financial performance.
Cisco is an IP-based networking company that provides an array of differentiated services for providers, enterprises, businesses, and commercial users. More recently, the company's expanding its presence in the network security domain, and we expect this focus on security and data centers to serve as growth catalysts in the long run. In the near term, however, we believe the company will face weak demand as businesses and enterprises figure out how they will spend their 2023 budget. We expect enterprise customers that make up most of Cisco's revenue will be more hesitant to spend their budget on network security under current macroeconomic volatility. We also believe Cisco itself will be directly pressured by the macroeconomic headwinds resulting from foreign exchange headwinds. We recommend investors wait for a better entry point on Cisco stock.
Cisco is among the largest players in the networking space, but we believe the company is not immune to macroeconomic headwinds impacting customer demand. The current macroeconomic environment is harsh, to say the least, with inflation at the highest it's been in 40 years. Enterprises and businesses are facing increased financial stress, and we expect this to be reflected in their spending habits regarding network security and data centers. Enterprise customers reported a 15% Y/Y growth in fiscal Q4 2022, making it Cisco's fastest-growing customer base. We expect corporate tech buyers to cut costs under inflationary pressures and rising interest rates. While we love Cisco's business model, we believe the company is vulnerable to spending cuts from its customers under current financial stresses.
Cisco also derives a significant amount of its revenue from federal, state, and local government markets. We believe this makes the company exposed to stringent budget behavior by the U.S government. We expect Cisco to grow meaningfully once macroeconomic headwinds ease, but believe the stock price remains volatile in the near term.
The following table outlines Cisco's customer market in its fiscal Q4 2022.
A significant amount of Cisco's revenue is derived from outside the U.S, around 42% in FY2021, subjecting the company to foreign exchange headwinds due to the strong U.S. dollar. We expect the company's financial performance to be exposed to exchange rates of other currencies - euro, pound, renminbi, and yen - compared to the strong U.S. dollar. We maintain our belief that Cisco will grow in the long run but expect the stock to be pressured by FX headwinds toward 2023.
Cisco provides various products and services to service providers, enterprises, and businesses, but security and data centers take the cake for Cisco's fastest-expanding markets. We're constructive on Cisco's rapid expansion in the network security domain. The network security domain is expected to grow significantly with a CAGR of 16.7% between 2022-2030.
The following image outlines the forecasted growth in the global network security market.
Since 2019, Cisco has been focusing its revenue growth on its secure, agile networks segment, and we expect the company to benefit from tailwinds for network security domains worldwide. The company's network security includes products and services preventing unauthorized access to systems. The company's data center products encapsulate Cisco Unified Computing Systems and Server Access Virtualization.
The following graph outlines Cisco's revenue by segment over the past few years.
Cisco's facing stiff competition from Arista Networks, Inc. (ANET), Juniper Networks, Inc. (JNPR), Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company (HPE), Huawei, and the Ethernet switch router market. We expect competition will force Cisco's hand to offer discounts and deals to maintain its customer base. Competitors are revamping their product lines in the switch router market, and we believe Cisco needs to bring its A-game to keep up with the competition and maintain profitability.
Cisco grew around 27% over the past five years. YTD, the stock is down about 30% alongside the larger tech peer group. The stock underperforms the S&P (SPY) index on the YTD metric, with SPY declining 17% over the same period. Cisco's competition is also feeling the pressure of macroeconomic headwinds; Juniper is down around 15%, Arista Networks around 11%, Dell (DELL) around 25%, VMware (VMW) about 1%, Aruba (HPE) around 5%, NetGear (NTGR) around 34%, and Extreme Networks (EXTR) up almost 19%. YTD, Cisco underperforms the bulk of its competition. We expect the stock to drop further towards 2023 and recommend investors wait for a better entry point.
The following graphs outline Cisco's YTD performance compared to the index and competition.
Cisco is relatively cheap, but we believe there is more downside to be factored into the stock. On a P/E basis, Cisco is trading at 11.6x C2024 EPS of $3.87 compared to the peer group average of 18.2x. The stock is trading at 3.0x C2024 on an EV/Sales metric versus the peer group average trading at 3.8x. We're bullish on Cisco in the long run but recommend investors wait to see how enterprise spending pans out toward the end of the year.
The following graph outlines Cisco's valuation relative to the peer group.
Wall Street is divided on the stock. Of the 38 analysts covering the stock, 12 are buy-rated, 16 are hold-rated, and the remaining are sell-rated. We attribute the lack of a unified rating on Cisco to concerns over how near-term macroeconomic headwinds will impact the stock. Cisco is currently trading at $45. The median and mean price targets are set at $53 and $55, respectively, with a potential upside of 17-22%.
The following tables outline sell-side ratings and price targets for Cisco.
We like Cisco's position in the networking space, specifically with its growing focus on security and data center markets. We expect the security and data center markets to enjoy significant growth as the enterprise world becomes more digitized. Yet, we believe the near-term financial stresses will chokehold meaningful growth in the industry towards 2023. We expect more downside to be factored into Cisco stock in the near term and recommend investors wait for a better entry point.
Networking-equipment giant Cisco Systems (CSCO -1.08%) reported results this Wednesday, covering the first quarter of fiscal-year 2023. The company generated adjusted earnings of $0.86 per diluted share, surpassing Wall Street's consensus earnings estimate of $0.84 per share.
Investors and analysts applauded Cisco's strong results, and the stock price closed 5% higher on Thursday. However, I don't see a ton of headlines mentioning one of Cisco's most shareholder-friendly qualities: The company is shoveling billions of dollars straight into the pockets of shareholders. I'm particularly impressed by Cisco's effective use of stock buybacks.
Fun fact: If not for the anti-dilutive effects of the buyback program, Cisco would barely have satisfied the consensus-earnings target.
Cisco's adjusted net income increased by 2% year over year, landing at $3.5 billion. At the same time, the stock-repurchasing program reduced the share count by 12 million stubs in the first quarter. The canceled stock adds up to 127 million shares on a trailing basis, which works out to a 3% reduction.
In a world where Cisco doesn't worry about share-count reductions, this-quarter's earnings would have landed at $0.84 per share, but only by the skin of its proverbial teeth. With three significant digits, you'd be looking at earnings of $0.856 per share, a rounding error away from missing the analyst target.
The lower share count shouldn't surprise anyone, especially since the bulk of this-year's buybacks fell in the second quarter of 2022. That period was covered in last-February's earnings update, giving everybody nine months to update their earnings estimates accordingly. The exercise above is just a bit of calculator-based entertainment, illustrating how generous Cisco's buyback program really is.
Cisco has invested an average of $1.1 billion per quarter in stock buybacks over the last three years. Dividend payments averaged $1.6 billion per quarter over the same period. That adds up to $1.69 billion of cash per quarter, sent right back to shareholders in the form of buybacks and dividends. Free cash flows in this time span averaged $3.53 billion per quarter, so the shareholder-bound cash returns consumed 48% of Cisco's average cash profits.
This generous cash return is no accident. Cisco has a history of generating massive cash flow and sharing them freely with stock owners.
On the earnings call, Cisco CFO Scott Herren said that the dividend-payout and buyback activity were "in line with our long-term objective of returning a minimum of 50% of free cash flow annually to our shareholders." That's been an official Cisco policy since the fourth quarter of 2019, three years ago.
I love seeing this shareholder-friendly policy in a veritable cash machine such as Cisco Systems. Even in an off-year like 2022, the company amassed $12.8 billion of trailing free cash flows -- and sent half of it right back to shareholders.
Today, Cisco's stock comes with a shrinking share count and a beefy dividend yield of 3.3%. You should expect the dividend payments to continue rising modestly over the years, while buybacks are adjusted to meet that 50% cash-sharing ambition, year by year. These qualities make Cisco a great buy for income investors, who value a free-flowing stream of cash profits and a tight commitment to cash-based profit sharing.
A man passes under a Cisco logo at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 25, 2019.
Sergio Perez | Reuters
Club holding Cisco Systems (CSCO) is set to report fiscal first-quarter earnings after the closing bell on Wednesday, and we'll be looking to see how the technology conglomerate has weathered gathering economic headwinds.
A sign bearing the logo for communications and security tech giant Cisco Systems Inc is seen outside one of its offices in San Jose, California, August 11, 2022.
Paresh Dave | Reuters
The stock rose about 5% in extended trading.
Here's how the company did:
Revenue increased 6% year over year, while net income slid 10% to $2.7 billion. The company now expects sales growth in fiscal 2023 of 4.5% to 6.5%, up from a prior forecast that called for growth of 4% to 6%.
CFO Scott Herren said in a company release that Cisco delivered "strong results" and attributed the company's guidance forecast in part to an "easing supply situation."
While Cisco's numbers topped estimates, the company is still struggling to grow as the technology world rapidly shifts to cloud and subscription software and away from buying physical boxes. Cisco's stock price is down 27% this year, while the Nasdaq has dropped 29%.
Cisco's top business segment, which includes data-center networking switches, delivered $6.68 billion in revenue, up 12% from a year earlier.
Internet for the Future, its second-largest unit, saw revenue drop 5% to $1.3 billion. The division contains routed optical networking hardware the company picked up through its 2021 Acacia Communications acquisition.
Sales in the Collaboration segment, which features Webex, contributed $1.1 billion in revenue, down 2% year over year.
Cisco will hold its quarterly call with investors at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) Credit Suisse 26th Annual Technology Conference Transcript November 29, 2022 1:40 PM ET
Kip Compton - Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Development
Conference Call Participants
Sami Badri - Credit Suisse
All right. Thank you, everyone, for joining us.
Kip, please go ahead.
Yeah, that’s good.
Yeah. Actually, you can sit right here if you want as well.
That would be great.
Yeah. All right. Thank you, everyone, for joining us. I am Sami Badri with Credit Suisse Equity Research. We have Kip Compton, today, CTO and SVP of Strategy and Operations and specifically the Enterprise Networking and Cloud business for Cisco. Thank you very much for joining us.
Great to be here.
Q - Sami Badri
Yeah. So one thing I want to open up a very broad statement here, a broad question is, there are several technological industry tailwinds that are currently ongoing today from 5G, WiFi 6, you name it, there seems to be a big tailwind embedded in the technology sector across all the various sub-segments. Could we talk about which of these drivers are most relevant to Cisco?
Sure. So before I begin, I want to say that, I am going to make forward-looking statements and they are subject to the risks and our latest filings. So with that out of the way, there are a lot of tailwinds. We are seeing networking right now is -- maybe it’s cliche, but maybe more important to a lot of our enterprise customers than even it has been in the past.
The three that I would highlight perhaps are: IoT, hybrid work, and the web -- the growth in the web scalers that we are seeing. So on the IoT side, you think of industrial IoT and some of the things, but we are actually seeing a growth in Smart Buildings and sensors and all kinds of things in the enterprise Power over Ethernet. Lighting, for instance, is driving a lot of growth and certainly a catalyst for our campus business.
On hybrid work, at the beginning of pandemic, a lot of people made very quick technology calls to make it so all their employees could work from home. Now they’re taking much more strategic approach and they are looking at their return to office and hybrid work and realizing pretty much every meeting is a video meeting now, even when most people are in the office, there are still people who are remote. And that’s driving a really significant change in the amount of traffic and traffic patterns in the enterprise and we think that’s going to continue to be a catalyst for some time.
And then on the web scalers, it’s just driven by the continued incredible growth in that segment, and we are seeing new builds of AI and ML networks that are even more sort of network intensive and that’s contributing to our growth there.
Got it. And then when you think about Cisco’s R&D investments, where would you say is kind of the biggest concentration?
I will probably divide that into two buckets, the way I think about it. I mean, there’s core technology. So I mean, huge investments in optical, our Silicon One ASIC strategy, our security technologies and core networking software that powers the Internet. Those are the core technologies where we made huge long-term investments and we are going to continue to do that to differentiate and lead the market.
The other category I’d say is we are increasingly investing to deliver experiences. And I think the success that we have seen with Meraki is maybe the primitive example of this. But all of our customers are looking for simpler ways to consume technology. Simplicity is winning.
So we are increasingly investing in cloud management platforms that deliver simplicity and you will see us increasingly bring AI and ML into those platforms to make it even easier for people to run their networks.
Got it. Got it. One thing I wanted to hit or kind of discuss with you is the market share of Cisco across various product segments. Where is Cisco most resilient from a market share perspective? And over the next kind of three years to five years, how would you expect market positioning to actually evolve?
Yeah. This is -- I mean, it’s on everyone’s mind, certainly including ours, and it’s a super tricky environment right now. I -- one of the conversations this morning, it’s a great environment for networking for the reasons I mentioned earlier. If you are trying to track market share, it’s a terrible environment, and of course, it’s because of the supply chain. And market share is counted on revenue, revenue requires us to ship. Shipping is dependent on supply chain.
And just to supply you an idea of the diversity and lead times that we are seeing and why this complicates how we calculate and others track our market share, we have some products that are as short as three-week lead time right now. We have other products that are 40 weeks, 50-plus weeks still. And there’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to that. It’s based on various component availability and our competitors have a similar landscape. So I’d just say it’s super difficult to track and understand market share right now.
We did some internal analysis and we actually shared on our latest earnings call a few things on our view of market share. We felt like we are holding our own in-campus switching, SP routing, wireless and optical as examples, and growing share in blade servers, telepresence and voice. So that’s what we are seeing in terms of the landscape. We think as the supply chain situation continues to resolve itself that the market share accounting will become a little bit more transparent and things will normalize itself.
In terms of what’s resilient, I mean, I come from the engineering product development side of the house. So my view of resiliency is where we have differentiation and there’s a few examples. I mean, in SP routing, a lot of it is driven by the incredible growth of our Cisco 8000 platform, fastest-growing platform in the history of the company and that’s powered by and differentiated by our second one ASIC strategy.
You see us in optical, just bringing incredible technology from Acacia and other areas. And also being able to take that best-in-class technology and integrate it vertically into a networking stack, which just drives greater efficiency and simplicity for our customers.
And then wireless and campus switching, Meraki is a major factor there. The simplicity and the experience that we are able to deliver with that model is winning in the marketplace and is helping to make our wireless and campus switching market shares more resilient.
Got it. Got it. For my next question, I was hoping we could kind of talk about the record performance you discussed on the last quarterly call and maybe you could talk about them by product SKU and you kind of alluded to some of them now. The main ones that you guys called out was the Catalyst 9000, the Series 8000, Meraki, ThousandEyes and Duo. Could we kind of dissect each of these product lines and just discuss what are the key growth drivers of each of these?
Sure. No. And it’s great to have -- frankly, we have quite a few products in different parts of our portfolio doing so well. The Catalyst 9000 in wireless, I will kind of lump together, because some of the drivers there are the same and I mentioned it earlier, the return to office and the fact that every meeting is a video meeting is causing some pretty massive campus refreshes.
That, coupled with the sort of traditional and ongoing more rapid refresh of wireless driven by new wireless standards. We have seen a lot of refreshes driven by WiFi 6. Recently, we see 6E on the horizon that’s driving similar refreshes.
And by the way, not a new phenomenon, but one of the things that we see with these WiFi 6 and 6E refreshes is that it tends to drive a switch upgrades as well, because they deliver -- those wireless standards deliver more than 1 gigabit of performance. So it triggers our customers to invest in switches that are multi-gigabit or M-gig capable.
On the Cisco 8000, it’s driven by the web scaler growth. And as I mentioned earlier, in addition to the normal incredible growth that we see out of the web scalers, we are seeing these AI and machine learning network deployments emerging, which are bringing a greater level of network intensity and more opportunity for us.
On Meraki, it’s the simplicity of the Meraki dashboard along with the full stack management capability. So a customer is able to go in and manage their switches, their wireless, their routing, their cameras, their sensors, for instance, all in one unified place and that’s something that’s very, very powerful.
ThousandEyes is another area where we saw incredible growth. This is a really fantastic asset. This is actually the first M&A transaction that we closed virtually. It was at the beginning of the pandemic. It was the first deal we had done without in-person meetings.
I think the timing worked out really well. ThousandEyes gives customers end-to-end visibility over their own networks, but also public networks, as well as the cloud. So they can understand the application performance that customers or employees are getting and this actually become super critical when you have people working from home, because they are calling the IT department and trying to figure out what’s going on and all of a sudden, it’s not enough for the IT department just to be able to see their own network. So that’s being driven by hybrid work and hybrid cloud in a big way.
And I think last one you mentioned was Duo. That’s Zero -- driven by Zero Trust for the same hybrid work environment, where increasingly people are not in the office, obviously, the security perimeter type model breaks down and you need people to be able to work efficiently and securely from anywhere that drives Zero Trust architecture and Duo is a leader there. So those are some of the drivers.
And then if you were to think about maybe the one technology or the one solution that seems to be, by far, the leading reason why customers are spending money, upgrading and doing what they are doing mainly to modernize or maybe even upgrade their networks. What would be that technology?
Well, I mean, I would say, first of all, the network seems to be more important even than it was in the past. Maybe it’s because of remote work, maybe the -- just the acceleration of some trends that were already in place because of the pandemic.
So we are seeing people really seeing their network -- their investment in their network is critical to their success. And even as they move very close to the cloud, you actually need a great network if you are going to get a great cloud experience.
So I think it’s -- again, it’s probably a combination of the things I have talked about. The hybrid work, including the return to office and what that means is key. Hybrid cloud drives investment in networks. IoT is a factor of 5G on the service provider side and also some interest in private 5G on the enterprise side are all catalysts.
Got it. Got it. I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about Cisco’s business model transition from predominantly transactional or perpetual to more subscription and software. Could we kind of talk about how this transition is going and I know you guys released the Catalyst 9000 with a subscription offering.
And I guess the investor base is expecting this to kind of go into other product groups at some point. Could we kind of go through that path and how the transition is actually going?
Sure. So I mean, we feel like we are on track. I think last quarter we said 43% of our revenue is recurring and that -- I think that’s aligned with the rough time line we talked about at Investor Day, I think, it was last year.
A lot of people question like do -- are we just growing our recurring software because of the hardware attach? And for sure, that’s growing. And we won’t hesitate, frankly, to attach recurring software value to our large scale hardware businesses, because that brings a lot of value to our customers. It brings an acceleration of the scale of recurring software for us as well.
We are also, though, seeing success in what I will call hardware independent recurring revenue, software businesses, SaaS businesses. In fact, we already talked about a couple of them, Duo and ThousandEyes. Our Cloud Calling business is doing extremely well as a Cisco Contact Center.
So we are able -- I believe we are able to drive a balanced strategy where we drive recurring software revenue attached to hardware like the play that we are still running with the Cisco 9000, as well as businesses that are SaaS properties that are hardware independent.
Got it. Got it. I wanted to kind of shift gears and talk about some of the redesign efforts that you guys have been kind of going through. And I think one of the main product lines is the Nexus 9000 and you have really seen it. So how long does it normally take for product redesigns to take place? And has this kind of impacted or cost Cisco market share at least in the most latest quarters?
It’s a great question. It’s -- there’s not a set - I mean, as you probably appreciate, there’s not a set answer for how long a redesign takes. What I would say is it really depends most of all on how -- when we are redesigning, usually, there’s a product and we have one component that has a very long lead time that, and of course, we can’t ship the product unless you have all of the components. And so we will redesign in an effort to remove that component from the product, so we can ship it more quickly.
The length of time it takes us to accomplish a redesign is determined by a bunch of things. But how intertwined the particular component is with the rest of the product and how similar or different the replacement or alternative component is, is what drives kind of the differences in terms of how long it takes us to accomplish that.
We are almost always talking about months. So I have not seen redesigns get done in a few weeks. I have not seen redesigns take an extended period of time either. We have done quite a few redesigns. It is, as you alluded to, sometimes a little bit disruptive to our innovation engine.
So if we have product development teams who are focused on innovating and bringing new value to our customers, we have to ask them to pivot and do a redesign program that can impact our roadmap. But it’s -- it became extremely clear to us that, perhaps, the feature our customers need it most was to be able to actually get the product. And so I think it was the right call.
That’s actually given us some good results, without getting into specifics. We did have one product where we executed a redesign and we started shipping it and we were able to immediately drop the lead time for our customers from 40 weeks to 12 weeks on that particular product. So it can have a really significant impact and we are continuing to use targeted redesign efforts on our longest lead time of products where we can make a big difference.
And then maybe just for an idea, I guess, because Data Center switching is going through redesign, that may potentially put into one of the more longer lead time categories, right, just because it’s currently an ongoing process?
Yeah. We do -- I mean, we do think that -- we -- in particular, from a market share perspective, we do degree -- do believe that, to some degree, the longer lead times that we have right now in that product are impacting how market share is counted. I mean, I don’t want to get into exactly which product you will be designing at any particular moment in time. But those longer lead time products are exactly the candidates that we would be targeting.
Got it. I wanted to kind of go back to a couple of references that were made on the fiscal 1Q 2013 call and it has a lot to do with energy efficiency. And I think I counted it multiple times.
I think I counted three times, right? And I guess like the big question when people talk about Cisco and the outlook on potentially like what happens in an economic downturn, what seems to be a comment made from at least the Cisco team is energy efficiency is a much bigger deal than we ever really…
… thought and that is kind of like the driver for why spend should be maintained. But maybe we can kind of get your take, like, how front and center’s energy efficiency coming up across your entire customer base versus maybe a select few that are sensitive?
Sure. I mean, it’s -- I think there’s really two things coming together here. One is the long-term sustainability targets that almost all of our customers have and they are trying to get to net zero and that is always -- that has put a focus on energy efficiency. Obviously, the more energy the product uses in general the more carbon it contributes.
The other thing that’s really come into the picture in the last year or so is just the rise in energy prices around the world, but especially in Europe. That’s brought a renewed focus to energy efficiency from our customers. So it’s part of their sustainability goals, but it’s also now a direct economic situation.
And I think we -- I think on our conference call, one of the things you are referring to, as Chuck mentioned a few technologies that he felt could help. Because we see this energy efficiency thing as perhaps a double-edged sword. Some people may delay projects because of the cost of the energy that they are paying on other things or that the project itself would incur.
On the other hand, we are also seeing it as something that causes people to look at new technologies that could help them with their energy efficiency. And I think we mentioned Power over Ethernet, Silicon One and IoT.
As Chuck mentioned, there are those three technologies that Cisco could help our customers with their energy efficiency needs. And briefly, Silicon One, it’s pretty obvious, it’s a much more efficient, especially on a watt per gigabit type basis solution.
On the IoT side, it’s about deploying sensors and making buildings smarter so that you can save energy and even make better use of that space.
On the Power over Ethernet side, it’s about just a more efficient energy transmission. So we have a lot of customers looking at using Power over Ethernet for their lighting in their office buildings, for instance, and they can actually save power, because the transition of the energy is -- of the electricity is more efficient and also because the Power over Ethernet infrastructure gives the much finer grain visibility and control over where that power is going.
So he mentioned those three technologies as things that our customers are looking at from Cisco to help them. I’d also note that we have seen greater interest in sort of sustainability solutions and those include like sustainable Data Center solutions and Smart Buildings in particular.
And if you are interested in this, we recently renovated our One Penn Plaza office in New York City and redid it with the latest Smart Building technologies. There’s a number of videos and other materials online if you want to check out what we are talking about here.
I’d also note, in addition to these technologies, we are seeing some customers, particularly in Europe, starting to look at their equipment and considering an early refresh, because they will have equipment in place, perhaps, it’s not fully depreciated, but they see their energy bill, their electricity bill and they see that newer equipment could be significantly more efficient.
And in some cases, we see customers putting together business cases to move forward with an early refresh, because they would rather get to that lower energy cost than finish depreciating a less efficient piece of equipment.
Got it. One quick follow-up on something you said earlier is, if you were to look in history, right, the last time customers really were very sensitively focused on energy efficiency for the equipment, right? Has there ever really been as important as this time today or has there always kind of been a top criteria for customers and their solution set deployments?
I mean it’s always been a criteria. I mean, I would say, qualitatively, to me, it’s coming up more right now. I think the confluence -- I think what I haven’t seen before is the confluence or the intersection of the energy costs and the sustainability targets that companies have. And I think those two things are coming together in a different way right now than I have seen in the past.
Got it. Got it. I wanted to touch on specific demand drivers in customer verticals, right? If we look at from public safety or the Public Sector to Commercial, to Enterprise, how would you kind of characterize drivers specifically to those verticals?
Sure. So Enterprise, it’s a lot of things I have mentioned, hybrid cloud, 5G, 400G and beyond, IoT and hybrid work are all top of mind with our Enterprise customers and driving interest and demand. We think we are really well positioned there with solutions.
On the service provider side, we are seeing solid demand, frankly, led by the web scalers, again, and that’s something that we see continuing. On Public Sector, in the U.S., we saw a little bit of a pause with the election, but we are expecting to see things pick up, and perhaps, a tailwind from the investments in the Inflation Reduction Act.
Got you. Got you. I wanted to go back to a question I actually overlooked on my list, but it has to do with software attached to hardware. When you think about Cisco over the next couple of few years, is software growth becoming more independent or more dependent on hardware shipments and hardware growth?
Oh! I don’t know how to quantify that. I mean, like, I said earlier, we are focused on growing recurring revenue software. And we will have a balanced strategy where it makes sense and there’s value to the customer to attach that to our hardware base, like, we have done with the Catalyst 9000, or frankly, like, is inherent in the Meraki business model. We are absolutely pursuing that.
And we are seeing some high-quality results there. Meraki, for instance, if a customer doesn’t renew their Meraki subscription, the hardware that they have bought becomes unusable. So that tends to drive a very, very high quality renewal rate on that business. So we are very pleased with the results there.
But then we are driving the growth and I think I mentioned Duo, ThousandEyes, Cloud Calling and Contact Center, as examples. We are building and buying and growing hardware independent SaaS businesses as well.
So I don’t know, I’d have to go look at our models and see if we had numbers. But we are less focused on like a percentage here or there and more, like, well, okay, recurring software, how do we grow that? How do we find opportunities to bring that kind of ongoing value to our customers and get that predictability for Cisco.
Got it. Got it. I wanted to kind of close out the final question with what keeps you up at night as a CTO just because the world is obviously changing very fast and there are multiple technologies and probably multiple opportunities for certain technologies to either be displaced or to be adopted. So how would you…
How would you characterize what keeps you up at night?
Actually, I don’t see badly.
But in terms of what’s top of mind. Lately, what I have been pondering is, given all of the change, it feels like a much more dynamic world. I mean the panic certainly herald in a new level of uncertainty, but now, obviously, geopolitically and in other ways, it feels like a much more dynamic environment than we have had in the past and I think that’s here to stay.
So thinking a lot about how we strike the balance as we are responding to things that come up now, like, the supply chain things that we talked about, how do we strike a balance there in responding to those things in ways that supply us more resiliency and flexibility going forward, because I think, we are in a different period with a lot of change and we have a very large and complex business, so it’s important for us to think about that.
Got it. Got it. Well, I appreciate your time. We went through the question list and thank you very much for joining us today.
Absolutely. All right. Great. Thanks.
Cisco's (CSCO -1.08%) stock price jumped 5% on Thursday, Nov. 17, after the networking hardware and software giant posted its latest earnings report. For the first quarter of fiscal 2023, which ended on Oct. 29, Cisco's revenue rose 6% year over year to $13.63 billion and beat analysts' estimates by $340 million. Its adjusted earnings rose 5% to $0.86 per share, which also cleared the consensus forecast by two cents.
Does that steady growth indicate Cisco's stock is worth buying again after being buffeted by macroeconomic headwinds over the past year? Let's review its previous challenges and its latest progress to decide.
Last September, Cisco set some promising long-term goals during its investor day presentation. It predicted its revenue and adjusted EPS would both increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5% to 7% between fiscal 2021 and 2025, driven by the expansion of its subscription-based software and cybersecurity businesses.
But over the past year, Cisco's secure and agile networks division (which houses its switches, enterprise routers, and other wireless and access point hardware) struggled with supply chain disruptions, component shortages, and rising freight costs. The growth of that segment -- which generated 46% of its revenue last year -- decelerated throughout all of fiscal 2022 and declined 1% year over year in the fourth quarter. Its collaboration business, which brought in 9% of its revenue last year, also continued to wither as it struggled to keep pace with Zoom Video Communications and Microsoft Teams.
Those headwinds offset the stable growth of its end-to-end security and optimized applications businesses (16% of its fiscal 2022 revenue) as well the inorganic growth of the internet of the future division (10% of its revenue), which had been driven by its acquisition of Acacia Communications last March. As a result, Cisco's revenue growth flatlined in the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2022 -- which cast a dark cloud over its ambitious investor day targets.
Cisco's first quarter report allayed those fears for three reasons. First, its secure and agile networks revenue rose 12% year over year -- on top of its 10% growth a year ago -- driven by strong sales of its networking hardware and a gradual easing of the supply chain headwinds. Its end-to-end security and optimized applications segments also continued to grow.
Those improvements boosted Cisco's revenue by 6% year over year during the first quarter. It expects that momentum to continue with 4.5%-6.5% growth in both the second quarter and the full year. CFO Scott Herren also reaffirmed the company's investor day goals of achieving 5%-7% revenue and earnings growth over the "long term" during the conference call.
Second, Cisco's margins are stabilizing. Its adjusted gross margin still shrank 150 basis points year over year to 63% in the first quarter -- mainly due to the impact of supply chain headwinds on its product gross margins -- but only declined 30 basis points sequentially. That compares favorably to its sequential drop of 200 basis points in the fourth quarter of 2022. Looking ahead, Cisco expects its adjusted gross margin to finally rise sequentially to 63%-64% in the second quarter. That's a bright green flag that suggests its supply chain headwinds are finally dissipating.
Lastly, that gross margin expansion prompted Cisco to provide upbeat earnings guidance for the rest of fiscal 2023. It expects its adjusted EPS to increase 0%-2% in the second quarter, and to rise 4%-7% for the full year. That's slightly higher than its prior full-year guidance for 4%-6% growth.
Cisco's stock lost more than a quarter of its value this year as investors fretted over its supply chain challenges and shrinking gross margins. However, its first-quarter report suggests those problems are transitory -- and that it's still well-poised to generate stable growth for the foreseeable future.
At $46 per share, Cisco trades at just 13 times this year's earnings. It also pays an attractive forward dividend yield of 3.3%, which accounts for less than half of its projected EPS for fiscal 2023. By comparison, Cisco's smaller rival Juniper Networks also trades at 13 times forward earnings but pays a lower forward dividend yield of 2.8%.
Cisco certainly isn't a stock for growth-oriented investors. However, investors who are looking for a stable blue-chip tech stalwart that is cheap and generates consistent dividends should consider picking up some shares today.
Cisco announced new capabilities across its security portfolio so teams can be more productive and protected wherever they are working from.
Unveiled at Cisco's latest annual Partner Summit conference, the news demonstrates continued progress towards the strategic vision of the Cisco Security Cloud that will protect the integrity of an organization's entire IT ecosystem.
The end-to-end platform will safeguard users, devices and applications across public clouds and private data centers, without public cloud lock-in.
"Security is no longer optional. It is critical to every major initiative an organization may have," said Jeetu Patel, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Security and Collaboration at Cisco. "We are committed to delivering more value for our partners by continuing to drive innovation and making it easier to do business with Cisco. Partners can land key products and then expand across the Cisco Secure portfolio to increase profitability while enabling customers to securely achieve their digital transformation goals."
Duo Passwordless Authentication is now available for all customers to protect Single Sign On (SSO) applications. Users can login without any password by leveraging biometrics (Windows Hello and Mac touch ID) and security keys. Cisco is also adding the Duo Mobile app as a new option for passwordless authentication. This will simplify implementation and lower the total cost of ownership for customers, as well as better meet the needs of all end-users as global biometric adoption stalled after several years of sharp growth. Among Duo customers, biometrics were enabled on 81 percent of mobile devices.
The findings are from Cisco's 2022 Duo Trusted Access Report, also released today. The annual study is based on roughly 1.1 billion monthly global authentications, an increase of 38 percent year-over-year, across more than 49 million devices and 490 thousand unique applications.
"Passwordless authentication reduces the risk of phishing attacks and their ability to utilize stolen passwords or as we've seen more recently, MFA fatigue," said Dave Lewis, Global Advisory CISO at Cisco. "As cyberattacks continue to move closer to end-users, there is a huge opportunity to embrace low-friction authentication methods that ensure only trusted users and devices gain access to applications and corporate resources."
Employees are going back in the office. Among Duo customers, remote access authentications declined since peaking in 2020, reaching lower than pre-pandemic levels in 2022. As hybrid work becomes the new normal, organizations are demanding high-performance network security without the increased cost.
To better meet the needs of customers, Cisco is introducing the existing addition to the Secure Firewall 3100 Series, the first firewalls purpose-built for hybrid work. Secure Firewall 3105 expands sizing options for branch offices at a price point accessible to more organizations. It empowers hybrid workers with support for more remote users and increases VPN speed and performance by 17X.
Initially launching in the US, Cisco Capital is now offering Cisco Lifecycle Pay for Secure Firewall, a Cisco Capital fixed term subscription payment solution, to provide a financial incentive and lower total cost of usage without the burden of ownership.
Customers can receive a 10 percent replacement incentive when returning existing firewall hardware and upgrading to Cisco's latest qualifying firewall technology. Cisco Capital offers a global suite of segment-and architecture-agnostic payment solutions that enable partners to better support their customers and match their buying preferences.
As critical resources are moved into cloud, customers are concerned about data vulnerability. The challenge is only growing, as authentications to cloud applications increased 24 percent in 2022. Data needs to be protected, not just because of the risk tied to malicious threat actors, but the unintentional issues caused by inexperienced users.
To help with this, Cisco is enhancing Umbrella with stronger data loss prevention (DLP) capabilities, including unified policies and reporting across API-based out-of-band DLP, and real-time inline DLP, making management easier for security teams.
Umbrella is a foundational component of Cisco+ Secure Connect, Cisco's unified Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solution. Highlighting their abilities with the integrated networking and security architecture, partners can now achieve SASE specialization to help customers securely enable cloud development and deployment, remote work, and edge computing.