Like it or loathe it, earnings season just keeps chugging along. Coming 'round the mountain next is tech stalwart Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO). The conductor sounds the all-aboard tomorrow afternoon.

We'll have time aplenty to dissect the specific numbers after the news is out. But before we begin obsessing over Cisco's short-term progress, let's use these last few hours to review what investors think about it as a long-term investment. Our tool in this endeavor: Motley Fool CAPS, where we poll more than 100,000 investors for their views on more than 5,600 companies, Cisco included. Here's what Fools have to say about the company and its long-term prospects.

Up or down?
Nearly 6,900 investors have submitted ratings on Cisco, making it the sixth-most rated stock in all of CAPS land. (To learn who's No. 1, click here.)           

Of the CAPS investors who've examined Cisco, 95% like what they see, and the better the investor, the more they like the stock -- 97% of our All-Star players expect Cisco to outperform the market, pushing Cisco to the very top of the heap in its sector:

Communication Devices Group

CAPS Rating



Finisar  (Nasdaq: FNSR)


Blue Coat  (Nasdaq: BCSI)


Riverbed Technology (Nasdaq: RVBD)


Orsus Xelent  (AMEX: ORS)


Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR)


3Com (Nasdaq: COMS)


Wall Street vs. Main Street
And if you think we mere mortals are bullish on Cisco, you should see what the investing demigods on Wall Street have to say about it. Of the 20 analysts who've taken buy/sell positions on the stock, acclaim for Cisco is unanimous.

Bull pitch
The top-rated pitch in favor of Cisco throws down a veritable gauntlet in front of Mr. Market. Writing in February, Manifest says it's as simple as this: "We either believe in the long-term viability of communications and CSCO's innovation and delivery, or not. We have Cisco Systems rated at a projected return of 25-26% based on 16% growth and industry leadership in margins -- an excellent quality rating."

Bear pitch
But the bears will not be appeased. For some reason, Cisco skeptics like zerozero3 believe the company has to produce quality products to succeed. (Crazy, Mr. Gates, I know!) This skeptic complains:

"Consumer line is having significant quality issues - this will lead to increased warranty costs. I had a new Scientific Atlanta cable box installed over the weekend - the new 'OCAP' version. The tech had four brand new machines on the truck - three FAILED to work - 75% failure of new machines is bad. [These] ... quality issues appear systemic ... clearly warranty costs are going to be an issue this year and perhaps next year."

(By the way, since zerozero3 wrote this back in September, "next year" is really the current year now.)

Who said that?
To learn more about the wise Fools who penned these words, examine their records (and see whether they know whereof they speak), and explore the plethora of additional financial data we've put together on the company, just click here.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's ranked No. 742 out of more than 100,000 players. The Fool has a disclosure policy.