October 22, 2003 3:22 PM PDT

Worm windfall bolsters Symantec

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Security company Symantec saw a sharp rise in sales and profits for its second fiscal quarter, as consumers snapped up more of its software to protect against a rash of computer worms.

Symantec, which sells a variety of security products and services, on Wednesday posted a net income of $83 million, or 49 cents per share, compared with $52 million, or 33 cents, in the same period last year. Revenue was up 32 percent to $429 million from $325 million a year earlier. The company also announced a 2-for-1 stock split to take place around Nov. 19.


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"We had a clear proliferation of threats," Greg Myers, the chief financial officer of the company, said of the jump in consumer demand. The "bump in our revenue, in the range of $35 million, might not be sustainable," He said.

Yet, even discounting the worm outbreaks, the company saw strong growth, Myers said. Symantec raised its earnings expectations for the fiscal year to $1.90 per share, or 15 cents higher than previous estimates. The company expects its fiscal third-quarter revenue to be in the range of $440 million to $460 million.

Symantec and other security companies haven't felt the pain of the tech downturn as much as other industries. A steady stream of worms and viruses that hassled home computer users and hurt the corporate bottom line has kept security firms' products in demand. In August, the MSBlast worm, its close cousin MSBlast.D, and the e-mail virus Sobig.F clogged business networks.

Symantec snapped up SafeWeb earlier this week, gaining technology for securely connecting to a company's network using browser-based SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption.

Before Symantec announced its earnings, the company's stock price fell 4.3 percent to $64.49.

 

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