October 28, 2009 / 8:51 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Symantec profits beats estimates; buyback planned

* Q2 EPS ex items 36 cents vs Street view 33 cents

* Q2 non-GAAP revenue $1.48 bln vs $1.43 bln Street view

* Plans $1 billion share buyback

* Shares rise 4.9 percent (Adds analyst comment, forecasts, details on results, byline)

By Jim Finkle

BOSTON, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Business software maker Symantec Corp (SYMC.O) reported a profit above Wall Street forecasts thanks to growth in its consumer anti-virus business and improvement in its struggling corporate division.

Shares in the world’s biggest maker of security and backup software rose 4.9 percent on Wednesday as it also announced plans for a $1 billion stock buyback.

The stronger-than-expected results came after two consecutive quarters in which Symantec posted earnings that missed analysts’ projections.

Analysts said that the results marked a start toward convincing investors that the software maker is on the mend after losing market share to rival McAfee Inc MFE.N, whose sales are growing rapidly.

“It’s been a bumpy road, but you are starting to see signs of a turnaround,” said FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives.

Symantec reported profit, excluding items, of 36 cents per share in the quarter ended Oct. 2, beating the average forecast of 33 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

It posted non-GAAP revenue of $1.48 billion, ahead of the $1.43 billion that Wall Street analysts had expected.

Sales of consumer software climbed 6 percent from a year earlier, while sales of backup and storage products fell 9 percent. Sales of security software to businesses fell 3 percent.

Net income rose 19 percent to $150 million, or 18 cents per share, from $126 million, or 15 cents, a year earlier.

Chief Financial Officer James Beer attributed the stronger-than-expected results to growth of the company’s Norton anti-virus business, saying that Symantec has been able to raise the average sales price for each unit of those products.

The company signed 70 deals worth at least $1 million during the second quarter, up from 53 such deals during the first quarter, Beer said.

He said the increase was partly due to success in cross-selling Symantec’s security and backup software products to business customers amid a reorganization of the company’s sales structure.

Sales to large financial institutions, telecommunications companies and U.S. federal government agencies were strong, he added.

The company also forecast that it will post third-quarter profit, excluding items, of 36 cents to 37 cents per share on non-GAAP revenue of $1.485 billion to $1.515 billion. That forecast was in line with Wall Street projections.

Shares of the Mountain View, California-based company rose 4.9 percent to $16.50 in extended trade from their Nasdaq close of $15.73. (Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz, Bernard Orr)

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