Cisco: Still Unclear About Market Growth

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Cisco Systems said Tuesday the prospects for growth in the economy and industry were unclear, but it plans to expand its market share and make acquisitions to respond to the needs of its customers.

Cisco, which makes gear that powers the Internet, said the U.S. market is "still struggling," while it has seen some strength in Europe. Asia has had a mixed performance, with China feeling some of the "stress" from the U.S. economic downturn.

"I'd like to say I knew where the economy is going ... but there's still limited visibility," Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers said at the Salomon Smith Barney 12th Annual Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference here.

Chambers said a year ago, there was a palpable feeling of negativity throughout the equipment market and among customers. "This year is a little different. [Customers' budgets are set conservatively, with the flexibility to go up," he said.

Cisco will likely make eight to 12 small acquisitions this year, using a combination of cash and stock, to add products or services to its portfolio that its customers crave, Chambers said. The company will likely expand its presence in the storage business, but will likely grow on its own or through a partnership rather than an acquisition. Cisco also may expand its consulting services, but it will limit its role to providing only specialized, high-end services, he said.

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