What happened

Shares of Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) surged in morning trading, up 6.2% as of 10:30 a.m. EST after reporting a "beat-and-raise" quarter.

For the fiscal first quarter of 2021, analysts had predicted Cisco would earn $0.70 per share on sales of just under $11.9 billion. In fact, Cisco reported $0.76 per share (albeit pro forma) on sales of precisely $11.9 billion. The company also guided for higher-than-expected earnings in the second quarter.  

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So what

Earnings calculated according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) weren't nearly as good: only $0.51 per share. And that was down 25% year over year. For that matter, even the sales beat wasn't terribly impressive, as sales still came in 9% lower than last year, and the gross profit margin slimmed by 70 basis points to 63.6%.  

Still, CEO Chuck Robbins described the numbers as "a solid start in fiscal 2021," and noted "signs of improvement in our business" that have him thinking Q2 might be even better.

Now what

Notably, Cisco predicts that while sales might decline in Q2 (as much as 2%), they also might not decline. The expected range of 0% to negative 2% implies just 1% slippage at the midpoint, or roughly 11.9% billion in Q2 revenue. This would be better than the $11.6 billion Wall Street is forecasting.  

Adjusted gross margin is expected to continue contracting, from 65.8% in Q1 to about 64.5% in Q2. Regardless, Cisco forecasts pro forma profits of between $0.74 and $0.76, instead of the $0.73 that analysts have been planning for.

In other words, after beating in Q1, Cisco looks ready to do it again in Q2. No wonder investors are happy.

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