Symantec profit beats Street, approves buyback

SAN FRANCISCO Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:42pm EST

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Security software maker Symantec Corp (SYMC.O) reported better-than-expected profit and authorized a $1 billion share buyback program, sending its shares up 3 percent.

The world's biggest maker of anti-virus software said the quarter was driven by strength in its consumer, backup and data loss prevention segments.

Symantec also saw strong bookings growth, as deferred revenue surged 12 percent.

"The investor view will be that this is a good bookings quarter, a good deferred revenue and cash flow quarter, and that revenue trends are starting to improve. But I don't think Symantec is all the way there yet," said MKM Partners analyst Aaron Schwartz.

The company has faced pressure from shareholders pushing it to split off its Veritas storage unit, which the company acquired in 2005, from its consumer security business.

Symantec's shares have underperformed over the past year, falling roughly 4 percent.

The company on Wednesday reported net income for the fiscal third quarter ending December 31 of $132 million, or 17 cents a share, down from $301 million, or 37 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding items, Symantec earned 35 cents a share, better than the average analyst estimate of 33 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $1.6 billion, compared with Wall Street's target of $1.58 billion. Security and compliance revenue rose 13 percent, while consumer revenue rose 4 percent.

For the current quarter, the company forecast earnings, excluding items, of 35 cents to 36 cents a share on revenue of $1.59 billion to $1.61 billion. The forecast was roughly in line with Wall Street's targets.

Shares of Mountain View, California-based Symantec closed at $17.80, but to $18.40 in extended trading.

(Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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