Why Cisco’s CEO switch could spell a sweet trade

Trading Nation: New CEO for Cisco
Trading Nation: New CEO for Cisco   

Cisco's announcement that CEO John Chambers is handing over the position to relatively unknown Cisco sales executive Chuck Robbins could have serious long-term ramifications for the tech giant. But in the short term, it may make for a great trading opportunity.

According to one analyst, the timing of the replacement announcement is revealing, given that earnings are on tap for next week.

"The announcement suggests to me that Cisco's April results to be reported next week should be upbeat," wrote Michael Genovese, who covers the name for MKM Partners, in an email to CNBC. "I have long held that Chambers would step down at a high point for the business in order to give the impression he is leaving the company in great shape."

Read MoreCisco taps Chuck Robbins to replace John Chambers as CEO

In addition, though Genovese rates the stock "neutral," he believes that this quarter's earnings and guidance expectations will be easy for the company to beat.

"I am still worried about the underlying fundamentals (i.e., orders for the quarter, which could be soft) but the hurdle for reported revenues and revenue guidance is quite easy," he wrote.

Cisco is set to report earnings on May 13. Analysts are expecting the company to announce earnings per share of $0.53 on $12 billion of revenue, according to FactSet.

Cisco's Chuck Robbins speaks at the Global Sales Experience in Las Vegas, Aug. 25, 2014.
Cisco
Cisco's Chuck Robbins speaks at the Global Sales Experience in Las Vegas, Aug. 25, 2014.

In the medium term, Chambers' departure from the CEO spot—though he will stay in the picture as executive chairman of the company—could mean more capital return to shareholders.

"Investors have been telling me for some time that Chambers' departure would be a positive catalyst. This is not because Robbins or anyone else can run the business better than Chambers. It is because investors want to see Cisco raise its quarterly buyback from $1 billion to $3 billion, and Chambers was seen as reluctant to do so," Genovese wrote. "The mutual funds think there is a better chance of getting the new CEO to agree to do this."

However, since Chambers is still retaining a powerful role at the company, the chances of further capital return could be diminished, the analyst said.

For his part, Oppenheimer head of portfolio strategy Andrew Burkly said in a Monday "Power Lunch" segment that the stock looks attractive because "they've done a pretty good job of keeping margins up, and valuation is relatively attractive versus the overall market."


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