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Needham Upgrades Cisco Systems

Needham upgraded Cisco Systems (CSCO) to buy from hold.

Analyst Tad LaFountain says the shares are down 26% since his Nov. 16, 2001, downgrade when the stock was at $20.14. He cited concerns about the outlook for service provider and enterprise sectors. While he recognizes the difficulties, he believes the challenges facing all vendors reinforce the importance of Cisco's unparalleled strengths, including a balance sheet that overshadows the rest of the equipment industry.

He says defensible revenue growth and reasonable margin assumptions lead to estimated 25% EPS growth rate from fiscal year 2002 (July) base over the next 5 years, leading to an $18 price target.

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