Cisco nears deal to acquire BroadSoft: source

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Cisco Systems Inc, the world’s largest networking gear manufacturer, is nearing a deal to buy U.S. telecommunications software firm BroadSoft Inc for close to $ 2 billion, a person familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

A newly installed phone made by Cisco is shown in San Diego, California, U.S., April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The deal, which comes after Reuters first reported in August that BroadSoft was exploring a sale, would allow Cisco to further diversify away from its stagnating switches and routers business by giving it a stronger foothold in selling unified communications software to big telecommunications firms.

If deal negotiations are completed successfully, Cisco’s agreement to buy BroadSoft could be announced as early as Monday, the source said, asking not to be identified because the deal discussions are confidential.

Cisco declined to comment. BroadSoft did not immediately return a request for comment. Bloomberg News reported earlier on Sunday that Cisco was close to a deal to acquire BroadSoft.

With its traditional business of making switches and routers seeing revenue declines, Cisco, like other legacy technology firms, has been focusing on high-growth areas such as security, the Internet of Things and cloud computing.

The BroadSoft deal would be Cisco’s second major acquisition this year following the $ 3.7 billion acquisition of privately-held AppDynamics Inc in March.

BroadSoft shares had closed at $ 54.90 on Friday, giving the company a market capitalization of $ 1.67 billion.

Based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, BroadSoft provides software and services that enable mobile, fixed-line and cable service providers to offer unified communications over their internet protocol networks.

BroadSoft has historically sold its products to large telecommunications companies such as Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc, which then resell the software to their business customers.

BroadSoft has recently tried to revamp its business model to sell directly to these customers, a move that risks its relationships with its telecommunications partners, according to a Barclays Plc research report.

New York-based hedge fund P2 Capital Partners LLC owned a 4.6 percent stake in BroadSoft as of the end of June, according to Thomson Reuters data. P2 has often behaved as an activist shareholder and has even offered to buy companies in which it has invested.

Another BroadSoft shareholder with a history of acquisitions is buyout firm KKR & Co LP, which is BroadSoft’s 13th-largest shareholder, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; editing by Diane Craft

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Cisco Systems: Bulls, Here It Comes

Cisco Systems (CSCO) has been caught in a long-term trading range ever since the dot-com bubble burst, and those long the stock have had few had few benefits for their positions with the exception of the stock’s strong dividend yields. But all of this looks ready to change, as short interest in CSCO has been waning for the past 18 months and market valuations are now pushing through critical levels on the monthly price history. Changes at the managerial levels, recent beats in quarterly earnings, and emerging revenue drivers all point in the positively direction in a confluence of events that should bring rewards for bulls that have been holding the stock for a long period of time. In our view, CSCO is on the verge of a major breakout that will define the bullish trajectory from here on a multi-year basis. There is still time to get long the stock, as market valuations have not yet broken above the critical 33.80 level we will discuss here.

In the long-term view shown above, we can see that CSCO has had an interesting price history over the last 25 years. A period of indecision has followed the initial rise-and-collapse and this has created a very strong trading range between 13.95 and 33.80. More recently, markets have been pressuring the top areas of this zone — and this activity has been further supported by a stable earnings performance that has beaten expectations in the last few quarters. In addition to this, the company is showing healthy margin figures while the stock is trading with an attractive 17 PE and a 3.55% dividend yield. This is well above the industry average, and so if you are a dividend investor looking for tech exposure you could do a lot worse than entering into a new position in CSCO at current levels.

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Analyst recommendations: Yahoo Finance

The bullish sentiment is reflected in the analyst surveys, with the census showing “buys” or “strong buys” for the stock even while it is trading at these relatively elevated levels. The real question here is whether or not the company will be able to breath life into what is viewed by many as an outdated tech entity and so it will be important for investors to identify areas that might boost revenue performances in the next few quarters.

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The action here could be guided by the contrasts, as the latest earnings report showed that revenues were down year-on-year. This has been the case for seven straight quarters, but the results were mostly inline with the estimates. In the report, CSCO did surpass the consensus earnings estimates once again (at 61 cents in earnings per share). This type of performance has been par for the course since Chuck Robbins took the helm as CEO, and so there is something here for investors to grab onto in terms of the long-term outlook for CSCO’s quarterly performance outlook.

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Helping matters here will be the significant decline that is now being seen in the US dollar. Relative to its most commonly traded assets, the greenback has lost roughly 9.8% and this will almost certainly lead to upside surprises in CSCO’s earnings performances for the second half of 2017. This is one market element that has come as a significant surprise for most analysts, as the pro-growth policy agenda promoted by US President Donald Trump has had difficulty gaining traction. This has hurt the US Dollar but is something that will come as a significant benefit to companies with significant overseas sales totals. Information technology falls behind only energy in terms of the sectors that stand to benefit from these trends, so bullish investors should expect upside earnings surprises in the next few releases.

CSCO Chart Analysis: Dividend Investments.com

As one of the few true survivors of the dot-com bubble, Cisco Systems has proven itself as a stable investment that is capable of withstanding selling pressure. With a price-to-book value of just over two, the company still looks well-positioned and undervalued. The key area to watch here is the range resistance that is now found at 33.80, as a break here would suggest that a new sheriff is in town and that the sideways sluggishness is over. Bullish readings in the Commodity Channel Index strongly support this upside outlook as there now appears to be very little selling pressure left in the market (with short interest at 0.91% of the total float). The stock’s 3.55% dividend yield is well above the industry average (of 1.39%) and the payout ratios are still seen at sustainable levels. On balance, this points to strong upside in the stock, so we will remain long and collect the attractive dividends associated with this tech superstar.

What is your position on Cisco Systems? We look forward to reading your comments. Stay tuned to Dividend Investors and receive our next alerts by clicking the “Follow” button at the top of the page.

Disclosure: I am/we are long CSCO.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Tech

Cisco strengthens China operations with Inspur joint venture

Cisco Systems is to form a joint venture with Chinese server maker Inspur, selling networking and cloud computing products in China. Cisco and Inspur will jointly invest $ 100 million in the project.

The partnership comes in the face of mutual suspicion between the US and Chinese government amid claims and counter claims of state sponsored cyber security threats.

In June Cisco was forced to remove several of its senior executives in China, amid reports of falling sales slide and Chinese government fears about the foreign ownership of networking equipment.

Cisco’s China sales fell 20 per cent on the previous year in the quarter ending on April 25 at a time when its global revenue gained 5.1 per cent. As its share of the Chinese router market fell from 21.2 per cent to 9.4 per cent the lost sales went to local rival Huawei Technologies, according to Bernstein Research.

Direct selling became more challenging, The Wall Street Journal has reported, after US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden said the NSA put surveillance tools in US technology products sold overseas.

US-Chinese technology company partnerships are growing in number and Microsoft announced on Thursday an alliance with Baidu and the Chinese state-owned private investment firm Tsinghua Unigroup on cloud technology. Last week Dell unveiled plans to invest $ 125 billion over five years in China. Earlier this year, IBM pledged to help develop China’s advanced chip industry with a ‘Made with China’ strategy, while chipmakers Intel and Qualcomm are developing chips with smaller Chinese companies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s arrived in Seattle this morning on a state visit to the US.

Chinese officials have said the partnerships will follow the pattern of car manufacturing agreements in the past, with foreign technology firms granted market access in return for shared technology and co-operation with Chinese industry.


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