Boring Portfolio

Cisco, Cisco, Cisco
Tuesday, April 28, 1998
by Greg Markus (TMF Boring)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (April 28, 1998) -- An attempt at a market rally fizzled Tuesday, although the Nasdaq managed to erase about a quarter of the previous day's 2.60% loss. The Boring Portfolio fared somewhat better, posting a broadly based gain of 0.90%.

Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) unleashed a torrent of press releases today. I counted five, and suffice it to say, it took an act of will -- together with a double iced latte' -- for this non-technogeek to make it through all of them. Phrases like "G.711 for high-bit rate applications" and "pricing plans tied to QoS metrics" didn't exactly make for light reading.

I'm pretty sure that I caught the drift of the message, though, which is that Cisco has moved us one more step toward the day when data, video, voice -- anything that can be digitized, really -- will be diced into packets and zipped along networks replete with hardware and software provided by Cisco, or one of its growing band of amigos.

Without going deeply into details -- you can head directly over to the press releases on the web if you crave them -- Cisco announced that it is offering an add-on voice/fax card for the high-end Internet access devices it sells primarily to major service providers. With the card installed, those service providers can offer "carrier-class voice quality" and faxing directly over their Internet infrastructures.

Equally important, Cisco has partnered with two small companies -- as well as with a somewhat larger one by the name of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HWP) -- to offer ways for service providers to keep track of the new services its customers are using and bill them accordingly. It may seem deadly boring to you and me -- well, to me, anyway -- but no small reason that service providers have hesitated to, well, provide services is that they needed to figure out how to charge customers for their use. That, says Cisco, is now solved.

I'm not alone in believing that the "killer app" of the all-purpose digital highway will be the humble training video, and Cisco's got that base covered, too. The Kid rolled out its Multimedia Conference Manager software feature set that enables wide-area networks (WANS) to handle H.323 conferencing securely and reliably. (H.323, they tell me, is the international standard for Internet voice and video communication.)

"With H.323 applications freely available and video cameras available for less than $200, end users are starting to use H.323 conferencing over existing networks," said Cisco vice president Cliff Meltzer in one of the five press releases.

All of this sounds great in a press release -- or a wad of them -- but is it for real?

Apparently Fleet Financial Group (NYSE: FLT) thinks so. In press release #5, Cisco says it has been selected to supply switches for Fleet's new WAN. Once the work is completed, the Boston-based financial giant will be able to consolidate all of its business-critical applications, electronic banking services, data traffic from its 1400 cash machines, voice communications, and other applications over a single backbone. Fleet has already deployed a number of Cisco routers and other products in the bank's LANs and branch networks.

Mea culpa: Last night I reported that Cisco will release results for its April quarter on May 6 after the closing bell. Make that May 5.

Finally tonight, we've got a summary of the follow-up conference call that the folks at FelCor Suite Hotels (NYSE: FCH) hosted yesterday after reporting Street-beating first-quarter results. FelCor's funds from operations (FFO) for the first quarter totaled $0.94 per share, up 18% from the year-ago period and a penny ahead of analysts' consensus forecast, as provided by First Call.

Lo and behold, FelCor's stock actually moved up an eighth today!

FoolWatch -- It's what's going on at the Fool today.

Stock  Change    Bid 
 ANDW  -  3/16  21.69 
 CGO   +  9/16  38.94 
 BGP   +  7/8   31.56 
 CSL   +  3/4   50.38 
 CSCO  +  7/16  70.81 
 FCH   +  1/8   33.13 
 PNR   -  11/16 41.06 
                   Day   Month    Year  History 
         BORING   +0.90%  -0.17%   0.90%  26.97% 
         S&P:     -0.13%  -1.51%  11.82%  74.56% 
         NASDAQ:  +0.63%  -0.21%  16.65%  75.97% 
     Rec'd   #  Security     In At       Now    Change 
   2/28/96  400 Borders Gr    11.26     31.56   180.40% 
   6/26/96  150 Cisco Syst    35.93     70.81    97.07% 
   8/13/96  200 Carlisle C    26.32     50.38    91.36% 
    3/5/97  150 Atlas Air     23.06     38.94    68.87% 
   4/14/98  100 Pentair       43.74     41.06    -6.13% 
   11/6/97  200 FelCor Sui    37.59     33.13   -11.88% 
   1/21/98  200 Andrew Cor    26.09     21.69   -16.87% 
     Rec'd   #  Security     In At     Value    Change 
   2/28/96  400 Borders Gr  4502.49  12625.00  $8122.51 
   6/26/96  150 Cisco Syst  5389.99  10621.88  $5231.89 
   8/13/96  200 Carlisle C  5264.99  10075.00  $4810.01 
    3/5/97  150 Atlas Air   3458.74   5840.63  $2381.89 
   4/14/98  100 Pentair     4374.25   4106.25  -$268.00 
   1/21/98  200 Andrew Cor  5218.00   4337.50  -$880.50 
   11/6/97  200 FelCor Sui  7518.00   6625.00  -$893.00 
                              CASH   $9251.26 
                             TOTAL  $63482.51