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Cisco shares up sharply in relief rally after earnings

A Cisco office is pictured in San Diego, California November 12, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A Cisco office is pictured in San Diego, California November 12, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake

(Reuters) - Shares of Cisco Systems Inc rose as much as 14 percent on Thursday, a day after the company reported quarterly results and financial targets that were better than Wall Street expected.

Cisco shares hit a multiyear high of $24.24 on the Nasdaq after the results and the company's forecast eased concerns about weak technology spending after many technology rivals had recently given much bleaker financial targets.

The last time Cisco's shares traded above $23 was in November 2010.

Cisco, whose broad customer base makes it a bellwether of sorts for the health of the technology sector, announced on Wednesday that it is seeing good signs in the U.S. economy even as it acknowledged global economic challenges.

By comparison, rival Juniper Networks Inc had warned on April 23 that its current quarter profit would miss Wall Street expectations because of weak U.S. government spending. Another technology mainstay, IBM Corp , had reported weaker than expected results on April 18.

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White said he was encouraged by Cisco's "optimism" compared with other tech firms.

"Cisco acknowledged the challenging macro economic backdrop but was able to out-muscle these headwinds through strong margin performance, combined with market share gains," said White, who raised his price target to $29 from $26 after the results.

Nomura analyst Stuart Jeffrey raised his price target for Cisco to $26.50 from $25 after the results, saying he believes "Cisco will see the benefits of a macro recovery earlier than most."

"We believe that this is largely due to sustained share gains and strong sales execution; both factors that we believe are sustainable for some time yet."

Cisco shares were up 11.8 percent at $23.71 at midmorning on Thursday.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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