Today: Cisco's (CSCO) earnings come in below Wall Street expectations, while its rivals make possible big changes. Also: Wall Street again hits record highs, as Silicon Valley stocks skyrocket despite newest arrival's disappointing performance.
The Lead: Cisco earnings disappoint, rival Juniper picks new CEO
Networking news was at the forefront of Silicon Valley on Wednesday, as Cisco Systems took a hit after failing to live up to Wall Street's expectations and predicting worse, rival Juniper Networks welcomed a new CEO into the ranks, and Riverbed Technolology reportedly worked on a possible sale.
Cisco, San Jose's leading private employer, reported profits of $2 billion, or 37 cents a share, on revenues of $12.1 billion, with sales showing a slight 2 percent bump and earnings falling from the year-ago quarter.
"While our revenue growth was below our expectation, our financials are strong, our strategy is strong and our innovation engine is executing extremely well," CEO John Chambers said in Wednesday's news release.
Analysts were not as sanguine as Chambers about Cisco's performance, as the company failed to live up to their average expectations, which were for earnings of 41 cents a share on sales of $12.36 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.
"That's a wide miss," Evercore Partners analyst Mark McKechnie told Bloomberg News. "That's going to bring up questions about the health of end-markets."
Worse for Cisco were the company's predictions for the current quarter, which forecast a decline in revenues of 8 percent to 10 percent, while Wall Street expected revenues to gain 4 percent.
"We will continue to see challenges in this quarter," Chambers said in Wednesday's conference call.
Investors sent Cisco shares plunging more than 10 percent in late trading as the news developed Wednesday afternoon, as the decline worsened throughout the company's conference call.
While Cisco dealt with blowback from its earnings report, Sunnyvale rival Juniper Networks planned for its future, naming former Barclays executive Shaygan Kheradpir to lead the company. Kheradpir will replace Kevin Johnson, who "made a personal decision to retire as CEO of Juniper," a spokeswoman for the company told The Mercury News on Wednesday; Johnson, who is 52, announced that he would retire in July, a couple weeks before the company revealed in a regulatory filing that it is facing an investigation for its overseas practices.
In Wednesday's announcement of Juniper's new leader, board chairman Scott Kriens said Kheradpir "has a proven track record of successful business operations and technology leadership, with industry knowledge and technical vision from the perspectives of both telecommunications service providers and global enterprises."
Analysts believe that the hiring of Kheradpir will lead to a focus on software-defined networking, a relatively new form of networking, which Cisco has already put a large effort into by purchasing spinoff Insieme, and Palo Alto-based VMware spent more than $1 billion on with its purchase of Nicira.
"We expect Mr. Kheradpir to sharpen Juniper's focus in Software Defined Networking and Network Function Virtualization given investor skepticism around the company's strategy in this area," Wedbush Securities analysts wrote, according to a Reuters report.
Juniper stock sank 1.6 percent to $19.29 Wednesday, then fell more than 3 percent in late trading after Cisco's news.
Meanwhile, San Francisco networking company Riverbed Technology has begun working with Goldman Sachs to work out possible changes for the company, including a sale, according to Bloomberg News.
Riverbed's stock has struggled this year until last week, when Elliot Associates announced it had purchased more than 10 percent of the company and would push for immediate changes.
Riverbed gained another 8.3 percent to $19.04 Wednesday, with all of those gains arriving after the Bloomberg report was published. The company ended the session with a market cap just north of $3 billion.
SV150 market report: Indexes hit record highs as tech stocks flourish
Wall Street's main indexes hit more record highs Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 closing higher than ever before. Silicon Valley technology stocks had a big part in Wednesday's gains, as the SV150 easily outpaced the gains of the record-breaking indexes to stay in line with the tech-heavy Nasdaq, but the area's newest public company struggled.
Chegg, a Santa Clara education startup, fell 22.6 percent in its first day of trading after pricing its IPO $1 higher than its initial proposed range, at $12.50. The first-day decline was the worst for a newly public stock this year, according to Renaissance Capital, beating out fellow Silicon Valley newcomer Violin Memory. Still, the company -- which began as a textbook-rental firm but has expanded to other areas of need in the higher-education arena -- racked up nearly $200 million with a valuation north of $1 billion in its IPO, providing plenty of capital for its long-term plans.
Elsewhere, tech investors found many reasons to smile, especially those who bet on social media. Facebook gained 4.5 percent to $48.71 after reports the Menlo Park social network offered $3 billion for messaging app Snapchat, an attempt that could be seen as CEO Mark Zuckerberg's attempt to stem the loss of young teenagers from the site. Zynga gained 8.6 percent to $3.81, the largest percentage gain in the SV150 Wednesday, and LinkedIn added 5.5 percent to $220.77. The newest addition to Silicon Valley's social media sector on Wall Street, Twitter, gained 1.7 percent to $42.60 while beefing up its advertising offerings and receiving a $48 price target from Baird Equity analyst Colin Sebastian.
Yahoo (YHOO) gained 3 percent to $35.10 as it kicked off an auction for dozens of unused domain names, and Netflix (NFLX) increased 0.5 percent to $335.28 after announcing a revamped interface for its streaming-TV service. Google (GOOG) gained 2 percent to $1,032.47 while announcing a new low-cost Motorola smartphone and testifying in front of Congress, and Sunnyvale-based Pharmacyclics rose 3.5 percent to $123.82 after the Food and Drug Administration approved its pricey new drug.
After Tuesday's busy day, Apple (AAPL) gained 0.1 percent to $520.63 and resumed its court battle with Samsung while facing a possible tax inquiry from Italy, but the Cupertino tech giant got good news when the Los Angeles school board decided to prolong its test of iPads in the nation's largest district. Tesla Motors (TSLA) bounced back slightly from recent weakness, gaining 0.7 percent to $138.70, but tragedy struck Wednesday afternoon when an industrial accident injured three workers at the company's Fremont manufacturing facility.
Down: Juniper, VMware, Ruckus, Workday, Electronic Arts
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 16.56, or 1.18 percent, to 1,421.45
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 45.66, or 1.16 percent, to 3,965.58
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 70.96, or 0.45 percent, to 15,821.63
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 14.31, or 0.81 percent, to 1,782
Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.