Economic 'mixed signals' dampen Cisco's positive results

Even as Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) was reporting stronger fourth quarter earnings, Chairman-CEO John Chambers was warning that the economy may not be returning with as much stamina as the major cable equipment maker would like.

"We're seeing a large number of mixed signals," Chambers said. "We think the words 'unusual uncertainty' are an accurate description of what's occurring."

There was nothing uncertain about the results Cisco posted, as customers who have held off purchases as long as they could finally gave in and bought product. Earnings were $1.9 billion, up 79 percent from $1.1 billion a year ago and revenue climbed to 10.8 billion, a 27 percent increase over a year ago.

What's uncertain, and what caused the vendor's stock to take a hit, is a future where another dip into recessionland could lead to less business as already hurtin' cable operators pull back on capital expenditures. That is the "unusual uncertainty" that Chambers referenced.

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