By Andrew Leckey

About Tandberg ASA of Norway for $3.3 billion.

-- Pure Digital Technologies Inc., maker of the Flip camcorder, for $590 million.

Also expanding its product lines, the company has launched a railroad station security device that detects safety problems quickly and informs passengers through public address. It has introduced the Icon phone headset; the business-oriented Cius tablet computer; and high-end video-conferencing gear.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) shares are down 9 percent this year following last year's 47 percent increase.

While earnings were up 79 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter ended July 31, that fell short of analyst expectations. In September, Cisco said it will institute the first dividend in its history, likely to be between 1 and 2 percent, with the exact amount determined in coming months.

The consensus Wall Street opinion on Cisco shares is "buy," according to Thomson Reuters, consisting of 18 "strong buys," 17 "buys," nine "holds" and three "underperforms."

Famous hard-charging leader John Chambers, its CEO since 1995 who added the chairmanship in 2006, holds about 23 million options and shares -- which keeps him in synch with shareholders. Skype SA recently snared a top Cisco executive in Tony Bates, who ran Cisco's enterprise, commercial and small business operation that produced products such as Cius.

Cisco has 70 percent of the switch market and is a clear leader in routers.

It also makes access equipment and network-management software for data communication between computer networks. New markets it has added include home networking, storage technology and Internet-based telephony. Significant competitors in various product lines include companies such as Juniper, Hewlett-Packard and China's Huawei Technologies.

Earnings are expected to increase 7.5 percent this year and 14.5 percent next year. The five-year annualized growth rate forecast of 13 percent compares to 16 percent expected for the communication devices industry.

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© Andrew Leckey

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