updated 8/10/2004 4:44:27 PM ET 2004-08-10T20:44:27

Cisco Systems Inc. posted a 42 percent jump in earnings for its fiscal fourth quarter Tuesday as the networking giant continued to benefit from corporate spending on technology and success as it branches beyond its core business of routers and switches.

For the three months ended July 31, Cisco earned $1.4 billion, or 20 cents per share, compared with profits of $982 million, or 14 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Sales rose 26 percent in the fourth quarter, to $5.9 billion from $4.7 billion last year.

Excluding special items, the company's fourth-quarter earnings totaled $1.5 billion, or 21 cents per share, compared with $1.1 billion, or 15 cents per share, last year.

On that basis, the company narrowly beat Wall Street expectations. Analysts were expecting San Jose-based Cisco to earn 20 cents per share on sales of about $5.9 billion, according to a survey by Thomson First Call.

Cisco said its performance was due to its success in maintaining its routing and switching market share as well as expanding into other markets and products such as Internet telephony, home networking and security.

"This was a record-breaking quarter for Cisco on a number of financial and operational levels," said John Chambers, the company's chief executive. "The investments we've made in emerging markets around the world, coupled with continued innovation in our core business and advanced technologies, are generating record results."

For the year, Cisco earned $4.4 billion, 62 cents per share, and posted $22 billion in sales. In fiscal 2003, it earned $3.6 billion, or 50 cents per share, on sales of $18.9 billion.

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