Shares of legacy tech giant Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) continue to rise Monday after the computer networking leader beat the Street’s fiscal first quarter 2018 expectations on Wednesday after market close. As analysts scrambled to lift their price targets on Cisco stock, investors sent shares up to highs not reached since February 2001. Trading up 1.5% at $36.44, CSCO reflects a 20.6% gain year-to-date (YTD), while the S&P 500 has increased 15.4% over the same period.
In the second quarter, the San Jose, Calif.-based tech company expects to return back to revenue growth following eight consecutive quarters of year-over-year (YOY) sales declines. The firm is forecasting for revenue growth between 1% to 3% for the current quarter, between $11.70 billion to $11.93 billion. (See also: Arista to Grab Market Share From Cisco: Davidson.)
Growth Seen as ‘Sustainable’
Following the earnings report, analysts at RBC Capital Markets lifted their price target on CSCO from $36 to $40, writing that “Cisco is executing according to plan and we are impressed by the security growth, recurring revenue growth, and the steady capital allocation program.”
Raymond James’ Simon Leopold increased his price target from $35 to $37, applauding Cisco’s transition to software-based products as the driving force behind deferred revenue growth. The analyst highlighted deferred revenue, or payments received on long-term contracts, up 10% YOY to $18.6 billion in Q1, including a 16% growth in sales from subscription-based and software offerings a 37% boost in recurring software and subscription offers. He views management’s forecasts for a return to YOY revenue growth as “sustainable.”
Deutsche Bank analysts, highlighting upside from trends in improved enterprise ad IT spending, raised their price target to $45 from $40. Morgan Stanley followed suit and increased its price target to $39, indicating that a greater integration of security and networking decisions should strengthen Cisco’s business. (See also: Google, Cisco Ink Cloud Deal to Take on AWS, MSFT.)