Shares of Cisco Systems, the No. 1 provider of Internet equipment, could be volatile the next two days before the company reports second-quarter results after Wednesday's close.
Cisco shares closed Tuesday at $20.20, up a penny, giving the San Jose, Calif.-based giant a market capitalization of $108.59 billion, down about 8.3 percent over the past year.
Cisco's performance could be a bellwether for the entire technology sector, which in general reported improved performance in the fourth quarter for computers and software, with mixed results for semiconductors.
As well, Cisco's results selling switches, hubs and routers for Internet traffic may foreshadow demand from Eurozone countries, which account for about a quarter of revenue. Over the past six months, most technology companies headed by IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft have been relatively immune from the European crisis because customers ordered more products to become more efficient.
Analysts expect Cisco, based in San Jose, Calif., to report second-quarter net income of $2.3 billion, or 43 cents a share, right along with company guidance, with revenue ranging between $11.12 to $11.23 billion. A year ago, Cisco reported net income of $2.07 billion, or 32 cents, on revenue of $10.4 billion.
CEO John Chambers, 62, last year took steps to lower Cisco's costs, especially after the company paid $6.9 billion to acquire Scientific Atlanta in 2006, leaving it with costly factories in Mexico and a bigger payroll. The company fired 9 percent of its 73,000 employees in July, incurring $1.3 billion in severance and termination costs that were spread over several quarters.
Last quarter, when Cisco reported first-quarter net income fell to $1.8 billion, or 33 cents a share, as revenue rose 4.7 percent to $11.26 billion, Cisco shares rallied, gaining 7 percent on Nov. 10, after Chambers said the company was performing better.
Still, there are no sure bets in the sector. Shares of Cisco rival Juniper Networks plunged nearly 11 percent on Jan. 27 after reporting dismal fourth-quarter results and issuing a poor forecast for the current quarter. Juniper has about a 20 percent share of the Internet equipment market compared with Cisco's 50 percent.
Other competitors include HP, HuaWei, Dell and Ciena.