Cisco Still Tops

Cisco Systems continued its long reign atop the tech sector late Tuesday, posting earnings and guidance that were once again better than Wall Street analysts were looking for.

Cisco reported quarterly sales of $9.43 billion, up 18% from the year-ago quarter and $140 million better than expected. Earnings of 36 cents a share were a penny ahead of views, and the company raised forward guidance too. The company also reported strong order growth.

Cisco CEO John Chambers reiterated his view that “we are headed into a new era in networking that we define as the second phase of the Internet. We expect that this phase will be driven by collaboration and Web 2.0 technologies and will become an increasingly influential market trend for businesses. Collaboration has already transformed almost every area of our business internally, resulting in the potential for dramatic gains in productivity and efficiency. We believe this new model will help enable Cisco to identify, target and capture market opportunities more effectively than at any other time in our history.”

Investors seemed to agree, sending Cisco’s shares more than 5% higher in late trading to a fresh multi-year high.

Also after the close, Priceline shares surged 10% on a big jump in earnings.

Stocks posted modest gains during the day after the Federal Reserve acknowledged the recent credit market crisis but said it remains more concerned about inflation, a policy statement that was a little more hawkish than investors were hoping for.

BMC led a long list of earnings winners that included Blue Nile , Blackbaud , II-VI , Novatel and TeleTech .

Clearwire and Sina fell on their results, and Qualcomm lost ground on patent troubles.

The Nasdaq rose 14 to 2561, the S&P 500 gained 9 to 1476, and the Dow rose 35 to 13,504. Volume declined to 4.84 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.83 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancing issues led by an 18-14 margin on the NYSE, and 17-13 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 65% on the NYSE, and 56% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 63-524 on the NYSE, and 105-268 on the Nasdaq.

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