Don't panic. Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) is still on track to meet its own ambitious performance targets, because this world of ours is thirsty for more and smarter network infrastructure. Yes, even under a slowing American economy.

The networking expert reported $0.29 in GAAP earnings per share and $9.80 billion in revenue. That's a healthy 10.7% year-over-year gain in sales, but 3.3% lower earnings. Adjusted for acquisition-related expenses and other non-cash items, earnings actually grew 12%, though. As such, the top and bottom lines were comfortably within management projections, and at the low end of the long-term goal of 12% to 17% earnings growth.

Chambers believes that the next five years will see Cisco setting itself even farther apart from competitors like Nortel Networks (NYSE: NT), Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR), and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). The key is "Web 2.0" technologies like cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS), where Cisco is designing its routers and switches to offload some of the data processing from the back-end servers.

"Our customers understand the co-relation of collaborative applications with any device to any content and any mode, any time, anywhere combined with intelligence moving from both the application and services layers into the intelligent network," Chambers said. That's a fancy tech-speak way of saying that the customers appreciate what a smart network can do for them.

Add a broad market recovery in Asia (particularly Japan), a dash of high-definition online video, and a truly long-term business plan, and you have a recipe for sustained excellence. The stock is never cheap, but sometimes you get what you pay for.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure always keeps a wary eye on the distant horizon.