Will a stabilized Cisco step back into the market?

Contact: Brenon Daly

After back-to-back quarters that roughed up the networking giant, Cisco reported on Wednesday a reasonably strong close to it fiscal year. Fourth-quarter revenue and earnings at the company topped Wall Street’s expectations, and included a rebound in Cisco’s core switch business. The company also projected that its overall growth would continue in the current fiscal first quarter, although the rate would be just 1-4%.

Chief executive John Chambers stopped short of using one of the metaphoric expressions like ‘air pockets’ or ‘uncharted waters’ that he has used in the past to describe economic uncertainty, but he said repeatedly on the conference call discussing results that the economy is facing numerous ‘challenges.’ From our perspective, we wonder if Cisco will get its M&A machine humming again if it continues to stabilize its business.

The company announced a deal in each of the first three months of 2011, but has been notably absent since then. In other words, Cisco has been out of the market since it first let on that business was getting tougher. Will that change now that business appears to be picking up again?