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Cisco's Q4 Not All Smiles

Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) fourth-quarter earnings hit analysts' estimates on the nose, but its forecast for the coming quarter was flatter than some investors expected.

CEO John Chambers predicted revenues for the first quarter, which ends in October, would grow between zero and 2 percent from the July quarter's $5.9 billion (see Cisco Sales Hit $5.9B for Q4).

In addition to seasonal effects -- Cisco's fiscal first quarter is typically a letdown after the fourth quarter -- Chambers noted a dampening of enthusiasm among customers. CEOs he's spoken to "are a little more cautious in their optimism than they were a quarter ago," Chambers noted on a conference call with analysts today.

Growth of 2 percent would give Cisco first-quarter revenues of $6.04 billion, just short of analysts' expectations of $6.06 billion, according to Reuters. In after-hours trading, Cisco stock was down about 4 percent until the estimate came out -- then it slipped to $18.87, down $1.59, or about 8 percent.

Chambers went out of his way to point out that Cisco doses its outlook with "healthy paranoia," but the numbers still may not sit well with investors, especially given the spots of trouble that cropped up during July's batch of earnings (see Extreme Profits, Market Shrugs, Foundry Revenues Flatten in Q2, Ciena's Ugly Day, and Agere Stung by 3G (Again)).

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