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Cisco Systems - A Fair Value Report

Sep. 06, 2020 10:04 AM ET
Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.

Baseline equity research, all cap value, Long Only, Value

Seeking Alpha Analyst Since 2007

I manage Wax Ink, an equity research firm comprised of individual investors not licensed or registered with any government agency. I have been an all cap value investor and independent equity researcher for the past 30 years.

My Disclaimer

I am a long-term, buy and hold investor, practicing a value investing philosophy. I am not a licensed or registered investment professional. I currently have NO investment position in the company mentioned in this report. Financial statement data was obtained from the company’s most recent SEC 10-K filing.


Past and future gains contained herein are based on actual and anticipated earnings, actual and anticipated dividends, and actual and anticipated price appreciation. Valuations, while given as a specific amount, are always within a valuation range. Investors should be aware that any investment has the potential for loss, and past performance is no guarantee of future results.


The intent of this report is to provide the reader with a brief overview of my valuations for this company.

What They Do

Cisco Systems designs and sells a range of technologies that power the Internet. These technologies include network switches and routers, data centers, wireless networking equipment, security components, VOIP, servers, and workstations. Industry peers include HP, Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) and Juniper Networks, Inc. (NYSE: JNPR).

Acquisitions Highlights

The company completed six acquisitions during fiscal 2020, spending $327 million.

Divestitures Highlights

The company listed no new business divestitures in its most recent SEC 10-K filing.

Subsequent Events

In August 2020, the company completed the acquisition of ThousandEyes, Inc., a privately-held company. ThousandEyes’ Internet and Cloud intelligence platform delivers deep visibility and insights into the digital delivery of applications and services over the internet.

Short-Term Target

My current short-term target for the stock is $47.89 with an initial trailing stop set at $40.21. Based on a recent price of $40.82, upward price movement will find resistance at $42.19 and again at $43.58, with final resistance found at $45.17. Downward price movement will find support at $39.73 and again at $37.25, with final support found at $33.46.

One-Year Growth Price Target

My one year growth price target is actually a price target range, determined by adding year over year earning growth to the prior year annual dividend yield and dividing the result by the current annual price to earnings ratio.

For this stock, my one year growth price target range is $41-$49.

Volatility Adjustment

There are different metrics available to help investors determine the volatility of a particular stock as compared to the volatility of the market as a whole. To me, the beta ratio is the metric that is the most representative of a stock’s volatility. A beta ratio of less than 1 means that the security’s price will be less volatile than the market, while a beta ratio greater than 1 indicates that the security’s price will be more volatile than the market.

Basis my current beta ratio for this stock of 0.83, my volatility adjustment to recent pricing is $8 per share, making my current volatility adjusted price $49.

Quality of Earnings

A company’s earnings can be impacted by a variety of sources unrelated to the company’s current day to day operations. Discontinued operations, tax refunds, depreciation, and impairment for example, may distort a company’s operating income and consequently its fair value. Investors should always explore the sources of a company’s operating income to better understand potential valuation impacts.

Of the company’s $2.79 in earnings per share, $0.08 came from some combination of other sources, income taxes, interest, minority interests, or discontinued operations.

Key Performance Indicator Rating

I use key performance indicators (KPIs) as a barometer to measure the effectiveness of management. Several of the metrics that I use are the tangible asset ratio, return on invested capital, free cash flow growth, earnings growth, debt growth, the dividend payout ratio, and the cash conversion cycle. Admittedly, my use of these and other metrics as a way to determine the effectiveness of management is subjective. Based on a 0-105 scale, my KPI for this company is 61.

Five Year Growth of $10K

Had you invested $10K in this company five years ago (0731/15), you would have received 352 shares of stock with a cost basis of $28.42 per share. Had you held the stock for five years and then closed your position (07/31/2020), you would have closed at $46.44 per share. During that holding period you would have collected $436 in regular and special dividends, and your initial $10K investment would have returned to you $16,341 a gain of 63% excluding regular and special dividends.

Annual Shareholder Return

I calculate annual shareholder return by subtracting the stock price at the close of business on the last day of a company’s fiscal year, from the stock price at the start of business on the first day of the company’s fiscal year, plus any dividends paid during that period, and then dividing the result by the opening stock price on the first day of a company’s fiscal year.

For fiscal 2020, the company spent $0.80 per share buying back company stock, paid a common stock dividend of $1.42, and had year-over-year annual price appreciation of $(8.96), which created a year-over-year annual shareholder return of (14)%.

Over the prior five year period, the company spent an average of $2.32 per share buying back company stock, paid an average annual common stock dividend of $1.12, and had an average annual price appreciation of $6.03, which created an average annual shareholder return of 21%.

Cost of Common Equity

The cost of common equity is the minimum annual rate of return an investor should expect to earn when investing in shares of a particular company. I calculate this by adding the thirty-year treasury yield to the beta ratio for the stock multiplied by my default equity risk premium.

My cost of common equity for this stock is 3.96%.

Insider Transactions

The SEC classifies insiders as “management, officers or any beneficial owners with more than 10% class of a company’s security.” Insiders are required to abide by certain rules and fill out SEC forms every time they buy or sell company shares. In addition, to prevent insider trading, or benefiting illegally from material non-public information that their positions give them access to, the law prevents insiders from deposing of shares within six months of their purchase. This effectively bars insiders from profiting from quick trades based on their “insider” knowledge.

Over the past 12 months, the company has recorded 124 insider trades involving 2,897,045 shares of stock. Of those insider trades, 32 were Buys involving 1,374,866 shares of stock, and 92 were Sells involving 1,522,179 shares of stock, creating an insider buy to sell ratio of 0.9 to 1..

Enterprise and Equity Values

As a fair value investor, I am looking for companies that have low debt and generate lots of cash. To me, the easiest way to highlight a company’s ability to generate cash is to compare the Enterprise Value to the Equity Value. What I am looking for with this ratio is something close to or above 1, meaning the company generates cash at a rate equal to or faster than it generates debt.

For this company my enterprise value (market cap plus debt less cash) is $37 and my equity value (market cap plus cash less debt) is $44, making my Enterprise to Equity ratio, 1.19.

Risk/Reward Ratio

I determine my risk reward ratio by subtracting the current price from my terminate target and then dividing that result by my initiate target less a price fluctuation variable of 20%. What I am looking for with this ratio is a value of 2 or greater. My risk/reward ratio for this stock is 1.

Prior Average Valuations

My average valuation for the prior five year fiscal period was $44. The stock price during that time period averaged $38, earnings averaged $1.87 per share, and the average PE Ratio was 20. The current PE Ratio is 15.

Fair Value Investing

To a fair value investor, the basic investing tenet is price determines return. Accordingly it is important to remember that the current market price of an equity is the price negotiated between a willing buyer and a willing seller. This market price is not the fair value of the associated company, but the negotiated price of a single equity trade.

My most recent fair value estimate for this stock is $25. My estimated fair value forms the basis for my target prices as shown on my worksheet.

Cisco Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) – FYE 07/2020 – FAIRLY VALUED – The stock is currently trading at levels above my most recent $24 initiate target, but below my most recent $50 reduce target. Please See Linked PDF Worksheet.

Thanx for reading.

WaxRevised on 09/05/2020

Analyst's Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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