BOSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - McAfee Inc said its business improved in May from April and, like larger rival Symantec Corp, the security software maker is developing products for Apple Inc’s popular iPhone.
McAfee Chief Executive Dave DeWalt, speaking to Reuters a day before the company’s investor day in New York, also said the No. 2 security software maker is sticking to its earnings target for the current quarter.
“We think everything’s steadily improved. That’s encouraging,” DeWalt said in an interview ahead of the Reuters Global Technology Summit next week.
“We’ve seen somewhat of a return to normal spending,” he said. “In January, February, it was almost a complete freeze in some cases, followed by March, just a little bit better. And April, better still.”
McAfee is developing security software for the iPhone and Mac computer, DeWalt said, in addition to technology it supplies to protect Apple computers against viruses.
“We are working on a much more comprehensive suite for the Apple family,” the CEO said.
In addition to anti-virus software, McAfee also sells products for safe Web surfing and data encryption.
As the iPhone’s popularity has surged, software companies have rushed to develop programs that run on the device. A billion programs had been downloaded from Apple’s App Store within 9 months of its launch in July 2008.
Symantec, the No. 1 software security maker, is looking at developing a backup service that would protect data on the iPhone and allow users to use the device to access information stored on their PCs or on the Web, said Symantec Senior Vice President Rowan Trollope.
Such a product would directly compete with Apple’s MobileMe service, which includes data back-up in addition to email and other services.
Trollope told Reuters his company closely monitors iPhone security issues, but has no plans to introduce new security products for the popular phone in the near future.
DeWalt did not give a specific date for the launch of McAfee’s iPhone security products, or say which products it would provide for the smartphone.
“The more applications become available, the more the threat of security and the threat of identity and data loss is there,” he said.
EYES ON HP
DeWalt also said he hopes to persuade Hewlett-Packard Co to end an agreement to distribute Symantec’s anti-virus programs on HP personal computers.
Symantec has a multi-year, exclusive distribution agreement with HP, which DeWalt said is due to expire within the next 12 months.
Trollope said he is confident HP will stick with Symantec once it evaluates all the relevant factors.
DeWalt said he is standing by the earnings targets that he issued two weeks ago, when McAfee released fourth-quarter results. The company forecast profit, excluding items, of 54 cents to 58 cents per share in its fiscal second quarter ending June 30. It projected revenue of $455 million to $475 million.
Analysts are expecting profit of 56 cents per share on revenue of $467 million, according to Reuters Estimates.
DeWalt declined to elaborate on the forecast, saying he and other executives at the Santa Clara, California, company will discuss the software maker’s business in detail on Friday at the investor day in New York.
Shares of McAfee gained 18 cents, or 0.48 percent, to close at $38.03 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. Symantec fell 3 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $14.90 on Nasdaq.
Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Gary Hill, Richard Chang.
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