The rhythm of daily stock market gains is almost becoming monotonous. Today, U.S. stocks recorded their ninth "up" day in 10 sessions (each of which produced a record (nominal) high in the process), as the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) and the narrower, price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) rose 0.5% and 0.4%, respectively.
Today's gains didn't impress option traders, however, as the VIX Index (VOLATILITYINDICES:^VIX), Wall Street's fear gauge, rose slightly, to close at 12.81. (The VIX is calculated from S&P 500 option prices and reflects investor expectations for stock market volatility over the coming 30 days.)
Cisco gets some love -- finally
After the market closed on Wednesday, the world's largest networking equipment manufacturer and Dow component Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) reported results for its fiscal third quarter ended April 27. Investors liked what they heard and sent the stock up more than 7% in the after-hours session, which was enough to push the shares' year-to-date performance past that of the S&P 500:
Let's start with a caveat: The after-hours session attracts few participants and is illiquid -- therefore, prices may not reflect the broad market's reception of the new information the following day. However, a glance at Cisco's fundamentals and its valuation suggest these after-hours gains are easily sustainable; in fact, I think this report could be the catalyst for a further rerating of the shares.
What did investors like about the report? Excluding unusual items (which include stock-based compensation -- a routine practice at technology companies), Cisco earned $0.51 per share in the quarter, two cents over the consensus estimate. Meanwhile, revenues of $12.22 billion were also above analysts' expectations of $12.18 billion.
Considering that Cisco peers Juniper Networks and IBM put up weak numbers recently, Cisco is providing investors with evidence that their shift from "being a communications company, a networking company, to more of an IT company" (in the words of CEO John Chambers) was a smart strategic choice.
With shares sporting a 3.2% dividend yield and trading at less than 10.5 times the estimate of next 12 months' earnings per share (based on the $21.21 regular session closing price), it's hardly absurd to think the after-hours price gains will hold and that the shares will go on to outperform the market by a healthy margin.
Fool contributor Alex Dumortier, CFA has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on LinkedIn. The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.