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Cisco profits down, but sees growth ahead

Cisco on Wednesday reported that profits fell 19% in its fiscal first quarter on lower sales, but said it expects future growth in an improving economy.

For the quarter ended Oct. 24, Cisco reported that net income dropped to $1.8 billion, or 30 cents a share, from $2.2 billion, or 37 cents a share. Revenue fell 13% to $9 billion from $10.3 billion. Product sales were down 17%, while service revenue rose 7.4%.

However, the company saw a "clear tipping point" in the market in the previous quarter, said Cisco chairman and chief executive John Chambers.

"Our Q1 results continued to reflect strong sequential growth trends that meet or exceed expectations during normal economic times," Chambers said in a statement. "We view the improving economic outlook, combined with solid execution on our growth strategy, as creating unparalleled opportunity to drive more value into the core of the network."

The Cisco board authorized an additional $10 billion in stock repurchases, the company said Wednesday. Cisco, which had $35.4 billion in cash at the end of the fiscal first quarter, previously authorized $62 billion in stock repurchases.

Cisco has been on a buying spree as part of its strategy to boost growth. The company last month committed to buying wireless platform enabler Starent Networks for $2.9 billion. Earlier the same month, Cisco said it would acquire videoconferencing equipment provider Tandberg for $3 billion.

The Starent acquisition in particular fits Chambers' strategy to broaden the firm's product mix. Citing Cisco's $35 billion acquisition war chest, Chambers said just weeks before the announcement that he planned to make a spate of acquisitions.

Cisco also is looking to spur growth through partnerships. The company on Tuesday announced that it would expand its partnership with storage vendor EMC (NYSE: EMC) to tighten their data center and cloud computing links as they move to capture more IT infrastructure.

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