Moments ago Cisco reported a whole lot of numbers as part of its Q4 earnings release. For the most part these were largely irrelevant, but for the pedants out there here is what Wall Street is focusing on: revenue and EPS beats of $12.36 billion ($12.15 billion estimated) and $0.55 ($0.53 estimated) even as Chinese sales continue to crater, plunging 23% in the quarter: thank you NSA.
But the punchline was revealed into the conference call when John Chambers announced CSCO would proceed with another mass layoff, firing 6,000 people or 8% of its workforce.
Putting this number in context, CSCO also announced it had just spent $1.5 billion in the quarter to repurchase 61 million shares of its stock, bringing the total for 2014 to $9.5 billion (including $3.8 billion in dividends).
So, in case there is some confusion, here is a side by side: assuming the terminated 6,000 jobs paid a generous salary of $100,000 per year, that means CSCO, net of restructuring charges of course, just cut down on some $600 million in annual compensation. Truly impressive cost-cutting. And yet, one wonders: if CSCO was indeed so focused on preserving cash and streamlining its operations would it also spend more than double that amount in just one quarter on repurchases.
An even more stunning stat: since 2011 Cisco has repurchased $21.9 billion in stock. Since then, it has fired 21,000 people.
Bottom line: terminate the workers, reward the shareholders, courtesy of the Fed's ZIRP policy allowing Cisco to issue debt at virtually zero cost. Thank you Bernanke.
And now, we shift to the Department of Labor, which next week will announce that weekly layoffs dropped to fresh near-decade lows, when by now everyone surely realizes, this is nothing but a pathological, outright lie.