Ahead of Earnings, Cisco Stays Afloat in a Sinking Dow

Ahead of Earnings, Cisco Stays Afloat in a Sinking Dow

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The markets are taking a hammering today, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is right in the thick of things. As of 2:25 p.m. EDT the blue-chip index has fallen about 111 points, with most of its member stocks in the red. Cisco has managed to resist the Dow's plunge as investors anticipate the company's earnings release later today. However, many of its fellow blue-chippers aren't having such a lucky day. Let's catch up with what you need to know.

Cisco powers up for earnings
Cisco's shares have hung flat for most of the day, but the real news will break after the closing bell, when the company will report its fourth-quarter earnings. Analysts are expecting a strong close-out for the company's fiscal year, estimating that revenue will rise by 6% and earnings will increase 8.5% year over year for the quarter.

By comparison, Cisco put up strong numbers in the third quarter when it reported back in May. The firm's switching products didn't sell as well as they had a year ago -- a troubling trend for the company's largest products division, where sales dropped 1.7% year over year. However, Cisco's focus on providing for data centers has paid off in a big way. Data center product sales picked up by 77% in the third quarter, and the segment's on pace to exceed the $1 billion mark in sales for the full year.

Keep an eye on Cisco's North American sales. The company made nearly 59% of its total sales from North America through the first nine months of the year, increasing its reliance on the continent for its revenue by 1.9% year over year. Meanwhile, Cisco's European, Middle Eastern, and African sales have lagged as Europe's economy has remained stuck in neutral. Total sales derived from the region fell to 25% of the company's overall revenue from 27% a year ago through the first nine months of the year, and it's likely that the trend will continue, considering Europe's ongoing economic troubles.

Cisco's having a stable day, but that can't be said for most of the Dow. Johnson & Johnson's being hammered today despite little news on the stock. Shares of the diversified health giant are down about 2.4% to rank among the Dow's leading laggards.

Yet is today's drop any more than an inevitable pullback on a day when most stocks are down? J&J's shares have performed exceptionally well over the course of the year, gaining more than 31% year to date. While the company's medical-device division has seen hard times recently -- excluding its surging orthopedics division, the segment's sales growth has fallen flat -- J&J's pharmaceutical sales are flying as high as ever.

J&J's steady blockbuster immunology drug, Remicade, hasn't slowed down at all despite being one of the best-selling drugs on the market. The therapy pulled in 7.5% sales growth over the first six months of the year and is on pace to exceed $6 billion in sales for the company by the end of the fiscal year. Meanwhile, up-and-coming oncology stars Zytiga and Velcade are both on the way to becoming blockbusters by the end of the year, as each has posted more than $700 million in sales over the first half of 2013. For Zytiga, that success owes to revenue growth of more than 70% for the first half.

J&J might be down today, but don't count on hard times overall for this standout medical giant.

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The article Ahead of Earnings, Cisco Stays Afloat in a Sinking Dow originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Originally published