The Economist says Cisco is growing gracefully middle aged, and the current trends favor the company as it expands into newer markets like VoIP and Storage. Still they are not too sure about the long term future of the company, especially when it tussles with the big lads in the telecom market place.
But those who have watched him over the years know that if Mr Chambers (aged 54) is upbeat today, it is in that gratefully relieved way of somebody in middle age who finds that he can still get his numbers up at all. Just recall Mr Chambers during the first half of his tenure, which coincided perfectly with the internet boom at its most youthfully optimistic.
Normally the venerable publication tends to be more incisive but this time around banks to much on wishy-washy analysts. For instance, it doesn’t take into account the attack of the quasi-clones from Asia. Or the fact that the network growth is coming from Asia, where price pressures are intense and could and will have detrimental impact on Cisco’s gross margins. Or the fact that its competitor, Juniper Networks is no wall flower, and despite some hiccups with the NetScreen merger has managed to take market share from Cisco.
Like most of those on the wrong side of the 50s, Cisco has gone for a nip-and-tuck. Buying Linksys was a quick way to make the revenue growth look pretty again. At the same time, it takes care of the fact that gross margins are down below the whopping 70% mark. That gross margin irked the carriers who secretly complain that Cisco is gouging cash when they are gasping for breath. Or the fact, that the security breaches in Cisco’s IOS are as routine as Yankees blowing a 3-0 lead. (Okay, I am still upset about that one!) Here, The Economist scores. Linksys is a near term fix: the company will face competitive price pressures from rivals, and will eventually become a drag. But right now it makes everything look peachy, as they say in West Virginia.