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Chambers promises shareholders dividend but doesn't say when

By Jim Duffy on Thu, 11/13/08 - 4:24pm.

Cisco CEO John Chambers promised at the annual shareholders meeting today that Cisco would one day pay a dividend but the timeline for doing so was more than a little vague. According to Dow Jones, Chambers's exact words were:

"Before I leave as CEO, we will pay a dividend," Chambers said during the company's annual shareholder meeting on Thursday. "We will definitely pay a dividend, but it's a question of when."

Cisco has stockpiled a healthy $26 billion in cash, and given the credit crunch, many would agree that dispensing a chunk of it with a dividend at this point in the economy might not be the wisest move. On the other hand, without a dividend, shareholders have to look to the stock's price to determine if their investments in Cisco are meeting their goals. A year ago, CSCO traded at about $30/share. Today it hovered at about $17/share.

Chambers promised shareholders that the smart move right now is to use its cash to invest in new technology or make small acquisitions, as well as buy back stock.

In the meantime, the company is moving ahead with its plans to cut $1 billion in expenses, a commitment made during the company's earnings announcement last week. The company has instituted a hiring freeze, which Chambers confirmed today, describing it as a "pause" in hiring, Dow Jones reports. The Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal is also reporting that Cisco cancelled its annual sales meeting in an effort to reduce travel expenses. The event will become a virtual meeting instead.

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