“Regardless of how you narrow it, you have to personal Cisco” (2000)


One of many core philosophical beliefs I maintain pricey is that the longer term is inherently unknown and unknowable. This tends to be true for the overwhelming majority of individuals practically the entire time.

The world is stuffed with limitless, random, often-invisible components we’re unfamiliar with that enormously influence future outcomes.

Our personal psychology works in opposition to our understanding this: Our hindsight bias permits us to see these unknowable outcomes with good after-the-fact readability; that fools us into believing our prior expectations turned out to be appropriate after they had been nothing of the type. We selectively recall our brilliance relating to market calls and inventory picks whereas conveniently forgetting the failures. The occasional correct forecast – no matter whether or not the results of talent or luck – fools us into confidently believing that we can also predict the longer term.

Which leads us to immediately’s pleasant cowl story: Cisco Techniques and its good CEO, John Chambers.

23 years in the past immediately, Fortune journal’s cowl story about networking gear maker Cisco was revealed. The quilt asks two questions on Cisco:

1.”Is John Chambers the Greatest CEO On Earth?” and

2. “Is it too late to purchase his inventory?”

Reasonably than cherry-picking essentially the most egregious quote from the article, enable me to share the opening paras:

“Suppose you had been stranded on a abandoned island and will personal only one single inventory. What would it not be? Give it some thought for a minute. Wouldn’t it be a inventory that’s been battered this spring and is down 20% from its excessive? A inventory that trades at greater than 100 instances earnings? A inventory that’s already climbed round 100,000% since going public ten years in the past, that’s already loved one of many best rides in inventory market historical past? The inventory of an organization that now faces unprecedented challenges in powerful new markets dominated by the likes of Lucent and Nortel, plus a posse of red-hot upstarts?

Yup, that might be the inventory. Regardless of how you narrow it, you’ve received to personal Cisco.” (emphasis added)

I’m hard-pressed to discover a main journal cowl story that was each extra correct in its evaluation of a supervisor — Chambers was an excellent CEO — and fewer correct in regards to the prospects for the corporate’s inventory. Just a few charts from that period reveal simply how misguided this story was.

Take into account why Cisco was the quilt story — it was probably the most profitable firms on earth: The Nineteen Nineties had been good for the networking gear firm, whose routers and different {hardware} had been snapped up by web suppliers. By the point this landed on the quilt of Fortune on Could 15, 2000, the worth of $CSCO was making all-time highs, and it was predicted the corporate would turn out to be the primary trillion-dollar market-cap agency in historical past.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

On March twenty seventh, 2000, a mere 2 weeks after this story was revealed, the inventory peaked. It has been one of many poorest performers on the Nasdaq ever since. By the point the (then tech-focused) index made its low in October 2002, CSCO had plummeted 85.7% (89.3% from its ATH)


It didn’t fairly get to a trillion both, peaking a bit greater than midway there, at $556.74B.


The article picks CSCO over MSFT and GE. Of the three, it did the poorest; this was extra dart-throwing contest dressed up as inventory evaluation. Microsoft has demolished CSCO since then, whereas GE did considerably worse over the following 23 years, however…


…however even GE beat CSCO over the following decade, by January 2009. Selecting CSCO over GE was additionally a nasty choose:


How did the “Regardless of how you narrow it, you’ve received to personal Cisco” inventory choose do in opposition to a easy benchmark?1 Choose your poison: The S&P500 is up 194.4% since that cowl story, whereas CSCO stays 27.4% decrease,2 a niche. of 221.8%.

CSCO versus S&P500


The Nasdaq 100 (QQQ) is up much more than the SPY’s 194.4% — it gained 215.7%, which is much more exceptional when you think about the drag of its as soon as largest inventory — Cisco — should have had on the index’ returns.


And immediately? CSCO stays 32.7% under its highs (March 27) round when this cowl got here out 23 years in the past…


A stark reminder: Relating to inventory selecting and predicting the longer term, no person is aware of something.




There’s One thing About Cisco
By Andy Serwer, Irene Gashurov, Angela Key
FORTUNE Journal, Could 15, 2000
Mirror (password: CSCO)


Can Anybody Catch Nokia? (October 26, 2022)

Step by step, Then All of the sudden (October 1, 2021).

Why the Apple Retailer Will Fail (Could 20, 2021)

No person Is aware of Nuthin’ (Could 5, 2016)

How Information Appears to be like When Its Previous (October 29, 2021)

Predictions and Forecasts




1. Passive indexing existed in 2000, nevertheless it was nowhere close to as broadly adopted then as it’s immediately.

2. Its much more amusing exhibiting whole returns



CSCO since IPO (%)


CSCO since IPO ($)


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