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Chuck Robbins to Report His First Quarter as Cisco's CEO

The new guy running Cisco has signaled his intent to shake things up.

Cisco Systems

When Cisco Systems reports its fourth-quarter earnings later today, after the markets close, it will be the first time the company does so with CEO Chuck Robbins fully in charge.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect Cisco to report earnings of 56 cents a share on revenue of $12.7 billion. And while meeting the Street’s quarterly expectations will be seen as a key benchmark to the start of Robbins’s tenure, there will be a lot more to watch from the report and conference call to follow than just the numbers.

Cisco is already by some measures a different company than it was when Robbins was tapped in May to replace John Chambers. For one thing, the whole leadership team has changed.

For another, it has added to and subtracted from its lines of business. In June, Cisco spent $635 million to acquire the cloud security company OpenDNS.

In July, the company sold its TV set-top box business to France’s Technicolor, at a stroke unwinding one of the biggest deals of the Chambers era, the $7 billion acquisition of Scientific Atlanta, closed in 2005. It also recently unwound another deal by shutting down Invicta, a storage business unit made up of the assets of Whiptail, a flash-memory storage startup Cisco acquired in 2013 for $415 million.

Robbins has signaled that he is contemplating more meaningful changes at Cisco, using phrases like “operational rigor” in public conversations about his plans, a hint that more business units and jobs could be on the chopping block. Today will be the first time he faces the probing questions of analysts about how those plans are shaping up. It seems the changes so far have been small, and bigger ones are on the way.

There is still a lot of work to do. Cisco continues to struggle with business silos that hurt its efficiency and confuse customers. And it still lacks a significant investment in the kind of software that will, in time, fundamentally remake the networking industry atop of which it currently sits. Those are just two ideas, and here are a few more. The Robbins Era is just beginning.

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