A six-month slide in Secure Computing ( SCUR) continued Tuesday following a warning that anemic government demand would leave second-quarter earnings below estimates.

San Jose, Calif.-based Secure said earnings in the three months to June 30 will be 5 cents or 6 cents a share on revenue of $21.7 million to $22 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had been forecasting earnings of 9 cents a share on revenue of $23.7 million.

The stock, which flirted with $20 in early January, was recently fetching $6.48 on Instinet, down $3.45, or 35%, from its 4 p.m. EDT close.

Secure Computing, which sells firewall and other security appliances for computer networks, said federal government bookings were 40% below its target in the second quarter. The company described the shortfall as an "anomaly" and said it expects the segment to rebound in the current period.

The company also previewed several positive developments in the quarter, including an 18% increase in sequential bookings, and noted its earnings could still double over last year's quarter.

The reassurance couldn't stem the stock's double-digit pounding, a decline that resembles the hammering in other behind-the-scenes technology companies that have preannounced this quarter, such as Veritas ( VRTS), Iona ( IONA) and webMethods ( WEBM).

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