UPDATE 1-Anti-virus sales help Check Point beat estimates

Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:23am EDT

* Q2 EPS $0.83 vs $0.81 forecast

* Sees Q3 non-GAAP EPS $0.80-$0.86, revenue $330-$350 mln

* Sees 2013 EPS $3.33-$3.46, revenue $1.36-$1.41 bln

* Nasdaq shares up 6.5 pct in early trade

By Tova Cohen

TEL AVIV, July 18 (Reuters) - Computer security provider Check Point Software Technologies topped forecasts with second quarter profit and revenue and said it should improve further in the second half after a weak start to the year.

The company said sales were helped by a new software blade - modular software building blocks sold as annual subscriptions - that stops unwanted malware, launched in the first quarter. It also introduced a blade for security and compliance monitoring.

But one of the global leaders in the corporate fight against cybercrime and computer viruses still lowered a January forecast range for 2013 revenue to account for soft growth in the first quarter, bringing it into line with analysts' estimates.

Chief Executive Gil Shwed on Thursday estimated 2013 earnings per share excluding one-off items of $3.33-$3.46 and revenue of $1.36 billion-$1.41 billion.

The Israeli company had previously forecast revenue of $1.4-$1.45 billion and EPS of $3.30-$3.50. Analysts are estimating EPS of $3.40 and revenue of $1.398 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"I do expect a healthy second half," Shwed told a conference call. "Overall, I like to think that we will see that business volumes continue to pick up like we've seen in the second quarter but I also like to be cautious and adjust the annual numbers to the first half results."

The company earned 83 cents a share excluding one-time items in the second quarter, up from 77 cents a year earlier. Revenue grew 4 percent to $340.2 million.

Check Point was forecast to earn 81 cents a share on revenue of $337 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Its shares were up 6.5 percent to $57 in early Nasdaq trade.

U.S.-based Palo Alto has eaten into Check Point's market dominance - growing by around 60 percent year-on-year - in recent quarters. But the smaller company cut its results forecasts in late May as revenue growth slowed due to U.S. budget cuts and European debt crisis, with analysts saying Check Point was doing better at defending its position.

"Top performers were the North American region and our new data centre appliances," Shwed said.

The data centre appliances, combining hardware and software, are at the high end of the company's product line. In the first quarter, fewer high-end deals had hurt revenue growth.

"Our software blades continued to deliver double-digit growth year-over-year, with threat prevention and application control technologies driving share gains," Shwed said.

Shwed forecast third-quarter revenue of $330-$350 million and EPS excluding one-off items of 80 to 86 cents. Analysts have forecast EPS of 84 cents a share on revenue of $347.8 million.

Shwed also addressed a report released earlier this week that showed Check Point was one of the top companies to benefit from government tax breaks during 2006-2011 as part of a programme to encourage capital investment.

Check Point was third on the list, having received tax breaks of 1.65 billion shekels ($460 million)

"As a result of this policy Check Point and other companies like us brought here a lot of business and we paid a lot of taxes. I don't know if without this policy, this would have happened," he told a news conference.

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