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Symantec, On Deck, Faces Tablet Threat

Stocks in this article: SYMC HPQ MFE EMC IBM

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Tablets and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) could both move the needle for Symantec (SYMC) when it reports its first-quarter results Wednesday, as investors search for evidence of improved execution.

The software maker was recently downgraded by RBC Capital Markets, which cited the risk posed by consumers shunning security software on tablet computers.


Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect Symantec to post revenue of $1.47 billion and earnings of 35 cents a share, a slight increase on $1.44 billion and earnings of 33 cents a share in the same period last year.

Symantec's stock has fallen more than 16% this year, as investors reacted to an increasingly competitive software market and awaited evidence of a true tech spending rebound.

The company could also feel the weight of currency pressures that have recently impacted other firms like IBM (IBM).

"Our checks imply Symantec executed somewhat unevenly in the first quarter of its fiscal year 2011, the balance of which likely resulted in in-line enterprise bookings with little possibility for upside," explained Brad Zelnick, an analyst at Macquarie Securities, in a recent note. "We believe storage was a relative bright spot and Europe out-executed the U.S."

While Symantec, which competes with EMC (EMC) and McAfee (MFE), has struggled with execution in recent years, solid consumer sales helped the company beat Street estimates last quarter. Analysts expect that trend to continue.

"Symantec's consumer franchise remains rock solid, as evidenced by the company's strong execution and the winning of the multiyear extension to its existing HP contract," explained Michael Bauer, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets, in a recent note. "Despite integration concerns around the VeriSign acquisition, we believe Symantec is poised to benefit from the fertile security spending opportunity over the next 12 to 18 months."

Last month Symantec confirmed that H-P would continue to ship its software on PCs, despite speculation that McAfee could usurp Symantec's long-standing H-P OEM deal.

The H-P deal came hot on the heels of Symantec's $1.28 billion acquisition of VeriSign's (VRSN) security business, a move that the software maker hopes will boost its e-commerce story.

Symantec shares fell 9 cents, or 0.60%, to $14.90 in Wednesday trading, mirroring the broader dip in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq fall 0.58%.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

Follow James Rogers on Twitter.

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