Symantec Surpasses Third-Quarter Expectations

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Citing heightened security awareness and increased sales in the business and consumer markets, Symantec on Wednesday posted third-quarter earnings that easily surpassed Wall Street forecasts.

The security software vendor posted income of $59.4 million on $290.2 million in sales, excluding amortization of acquisition-related charges, for its third quarter ended Dec. 28. That compares with income of $40.4 million on $241.7 million in sales for the same quarter last year.

Symantec, based here, posted earnings of 78 cents per share, compared with First Call/Thomson Financial consensus estimates of 64 cents per share.

Including one-time charges, amortization of goodwill and acquisition-related expenses, the company posted income of $100,000, breaking even on a per-share basis.

"We continue to achieve great market-share gains across both the consumer and enterprise segments," John Thompson, Symantec chairman and CEO, said in a conference call.

Enterprise sales grew 44 percent over the same quarter last year and accounted for 60 percent of total sales, he said. On the consumer side of its business, the company sold a record 5.3 million packaged products during the third quarter, he said.

Thompson said Symantec will introduce a number of new enterprise security products, including an appliance that combines firewall, VPN, intrusion detection and other security capabilities with a central management function to block threats at the gateway.

Beta testing was completed on the product, he said. Symantec also is on track with its plan to release in midyear a console that will allow for centralized management of its products and those of other vendors, he said.

Last year, the vendor expanded its partner program with a focus on product training and certification. The company's partners are key to its strategy for the midsize market but also the high-end market, Thompson said.

Symantec expects fourth-quarter revenue of between $285 million and $295 million.

Shares of Symantec closed at $66.95 Wednesday, down $3.45.

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