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Cisco vows return of big borging

30 non-networking markets? That's peanuts

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Cisco boss John Chambers is confident the world economy has recovered enough for a renewed push into new markets.

Opening an analyst day at Cisco's headquarters in San Jose, California this morning, Chambers said the company plans a return to its long-term goal of 12 per cent to 17 per cent annual growth that it has failed to reach in the past year with more customers cutting back on IT spending.

Cisco's immediate focus will be on video and collaboration going forward, he said, forsaking center stage during his speech to stride up and down the isles. And Cisco will expand into new markets the way it knows best: lots of acquisitions.

"Who does acquisitions better than Cisco," he asked, pouncing on an audience member with the question. After an awkward pause from his victim, the executive was supplied with a grimace and a shrug. Chambers laughed jovially, taking the reaction as affirmation of Cisco's finesse at swallowing lesser firms.

Chambers noted that Cisco already has its hands in 30 markets unrelated to its core networking biz. "It's a lot," he said, "but I actually think 30 is too few."

He said the company can aggressively tap new markets because its sure of its dominance in the networking market. "It's about catching market transitions, we don't spend time talking about competitors," he said. "I know you want me to talk about HP, you want me to talk about Huawei. We have dozens of competitors — and if you don't have good competitors, you're not in good markets."

Still, the Cisco boss said the company won't move into adjacent markets unless they're firmly tied to the network. Chambers claimed one of the big reasons for Cisco's success in acquisitions is its ability to move in quick and retain the talent.

On economic recovery, he described the third quarter of 2009 as the bottom for Cisco, Q4 as the "tipping point," and the first quarter of 2009 as the first phase of a return to "aggressive growth." ®

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