Cisco Systems, a prominent networking infrastructure company, is gaining traction as J.P. Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee expresses optimism for the future of the organization. Chatterjee's bullish outlook stems from the anticipation of improved order volumes and his belief that the stock is undervalued.
In light of these factors, Chatterjee has upgraded his rating on Cisco stock (ticker: CSCO) from Neutral to Overweight. Additionally, he has raised the price target to $62, up from $55. As a result of this positive development, Cisco stock has risen by 1.7% to $52.13 at the start of Wednesday trading. However, it is worth noting that the stock's growth of approximately 10% this year pales in comparison to the Nasdaq Composite's impressive 37% advancement.
Despite concerns among some analysts that Cisco's revenue estimates might be overly optimistic, BofA Global Research analyst Tal Liani recently cautioned against overly high expectations for both the July 2024 fiscal year and fiscal 2025.
Acknowledging these reservations, Chatterjee affirms that uncertainties surrounding enterprise-product orders persist. Nevertheless, he points out that the stock is currently valued at a modest 12.5 times forward earnings. Chatterjee is confident that in the upcoming quarters, order volumes, which experienced a steep decline after a surge during the pandemic, will return to normal patterns.
In the May quarter, Cisco witnessed a significant 23% drop in orders following a 22% decline in the previous quarter. In an interview with our team after the May earnings report, CFO Scott Herren identified three factors contributing to this decline.
Lead Times and Customer Behavior
The rapid improvement in component availability has significantly reduced lead times in recent quarters. According to an industry expert, lead times have decreased by approximately 40%. This decrease in lead times has had an interesting impact on customer behavior - customers are now less aggressive in placing their orders due to the shorter wait times.
Digestion Period and Elongated Sales Cycle
Another important factor contributing to the current customer dynamics is the improved ability of the company to ship products promptly. This has resulted in some customers entering a digestion period, where they are working through their completed orders before making new ones. Additionally, both service providers and other large customers are experiencing a longer sales cycle. As a result, caution is advised during this period.
Investor Revenue Expectations and Backlog
Despite the cautious environment, current investor revenue expectations are relatively stable. This is due to the company's still elevated backlog. Even if there is a decline of 10% to 15% in orders during fiscal 2024, the company is likely to meet Wall Street estimates based on its solid backlog.
Positive Factors Affecting Gross Margins
On a positive note, there are several factors that could contribute to improved gross margins. Firstly, prices from suppliers are expected to moderate, which will have a positive impact on margins. In addition, tighter cost controls and the increasing contribution of software to overall revenue will further enhance gross margins. Furthermore, it is believed that enterprise spending on networking gear has reached its lowest point, suggesting a potential upswing in the near future.
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