Symantec’s (SYMC) Security Blanket

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Symantec (SYMC) is an odd company. Its shares are down about 12% over the last two years, and the S&P is up about 25%. The firm has bought rivals. It has accused Microsoft (MSFT) of bundling its own security software with Vista, giving Redmond an unfair edge in industry.

Yesterday’s earnings appear to make it clear that the company is doing just fine, and its major problems may be behind it. The stock moved up 10% after hours as net income for the period ended June 29 was $95.2 million, or $.10 a share, compared with $100.5 million, or $.10  a share, in the period a year earlier. Meanwhile revenue rose to $1.4 billion, from $1.27 billion.

Excluding certain items, Symantec said earnings for the quarter were 29 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected earnings of 20 cents a share, on revenue of $1.32 billion. 
The company also raised guidance.
Symantec is riding the tide of tech paranoia. PCs and data centers are bombarded by all sorts of viruses and attacks from outside agents. The company’s security software tries to stay ahead of these threats, and seems to do a good job.
All of this still leaves open what Microsoft (MSFT) is up to in security software and whether bundling its software with Vista and other applications will help it compete with Symantec.
But, that issue is probably a year away.
Douglas A. McIntyre