Cisco's success is Chambers-made

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John Chambers and the company he heads continue to exceed Wall Street's expectations and impress customers and competitors.

In the third quarter, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) posted an 18 percent year-over-year increase in net income, the strongest growth of any of the enterprise communications firms tracked by this publication.

The company also posted $11.9 billion in revenues, well ahead of the $11.8 billion predicted by Wall Street analysts. Cisco expects continued strong growth and an estimated revenue next quarter of between $11.9 billion and $12.2 billion.

While Cisco continues to post strong results, competing telecom equipment firms such as Alcatel-Lucent are struggling to stay in business. So Cisco's success cannot be attributed to a strong market, but rather a well-managed company.

And this is where Chambers comes in. Chambers has been credited with taking the struggling network routing and switching business and turning it into a $40 billion-plus IT behemoth. Under his stewardship, Cisco's stock has appreciated 1,000 percent, and the company nowadays seems to top the charts in most major IT segments.

That is why reading the tea leaves about who will succeed Chambers is so important. Last month, pundits' tongues were wagging when Cisco gave two executives the title of president: Gary Moore, the company's chief operating officer, and Rob Lloyd, head of worldwide sales. But these individuals are only the first wave of potential successors, according to Chambers.

Chambers told an audience at last month's Gartner Symposium ITxpo that he is constantly trying to innovate. He admitted that not all of his innovations have been successful, such as his decision to discontinue the Flip digital camera.

But most of Chambers' hunches have paid off. Cisco will be hard pressed to maintain his record of success when he finally steps down. -Fred