Cisco Systems Back as Top-Performing Dow Stock in 2018

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Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) last week took over the top spot for year-to-date performance among the 30 equities that make up the Dow Jones industrial average. Cisco shares added 2.53% to push its share price gain this year to 15.1%.

The second-best performer among the Dow 30 so far this year is Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) which is up 14.8%. That is followed by Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC), up 11.6%; Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) up 11.0%; and Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) up 8.9%. Of the 30 stocks comprising the Dow index, just 12 have posted year-to-date gains as of Friday’s close.

The Dow added 102.8 points over the course of the past week to close at 24,462.94, up just 0.4% for the week. The tech sector as a whole is up nearly 29% over the past 12 months.

Cisco posted no earth-shaking news last week, settling instead to ride a wave of investor interest in tech stocks. One wave was a sizable investment from one of Norway’s largest banks.

Barron’s reported on Wednesday that Norwegian bank DnB nearly doubled its stake in Cisco from 1.7 million shares at the end of December 2017 to 3.2 million shares at the end of the first quarter of 2018. At the same time, the bank cut its stake in Intel from 3.8 million shares to 1.7 million.

Cisco is also likely to benefit from the ban on sales of U.S. components to China’s ZTE for a period of seven years. Cisco ended a partnership with ZTE in 2012, and the two companies have been competitors in the network equipment market ever since. The ban on U.S. sales to ZTE, which is best known in the United States for its smartphones, will put a crimp in ZTE’s telecom equipment business.

Cisco’s shares closed down about 1% Friday, at $44.09 in a 52-week range of $30.36 to $46.16. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock is $48.85, and the forward price-earnings ratio is 15.45.

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