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Networking equipment giant Cisco Systems (CSCO 0.35%) reported results for the second quarter of fiscal year 2014 after Wednesday's closing bell. The report more than satisfied analyst estimates, with reasonable forward-looking guidance. But the return to sustainable growth will take longer than analysts and investors had hoped. In after-hours trading, Cisco shares fell more than 4% on the news.

Cisco delivered second-quarter results at the top end of management guidance. Sales fell 8% year over year to $11.2 billion and non-GAAP earnings also moved 8% lower, landing at $0.47 per share. Wall Street estimates were sitting at the midpoint of Cisco's guidance ranges, so this report qualifies as a positive surprise.

Looking ahead, Cisco expects third-quarter sales to fall roughly 7% year over year, yielding about $0.48 of non-GAAP earnings per share. That's in line with current analyst targets.

"I'm pleased with the progress we've made managing through the technology transitions of cloud, mobile, security and video," said Cisco CEO John Chambers in a prepared statement.

He also reminded investors of "our plan to return to growth over the next several quarters." That sounds like a long stretch to analysts who were expecting a return to year-over-year sales and earnings growth in no more than two or three quarters.

The company also increased its quarterly dividend by 12% in this release. The forward dividend yield will rise from 3% to 3.5% on the combination of higher payouts and lower share prices.