Updated from Jan. 19Strong consumer sales propelled Symantec ( SYMC) to a record third quarter, as the antivirus maker beat Wall Street's expectations. The Cupertino, Calif., company posted revenue of $695 million, an increase of 41% over last year, Symantec announced after the closing bell Wednesday. Pro forma net income was $175 million, or 24 cents a share, up from $120 million, or 17 cents a share in the same quarter last year. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting a profit of 22 cents a share on sales of $665 million. But spurred by aggressive "whisper numbers" circulating on Wall Street, investors were hoping for more. Shares were recently off 64 cents, or 2.6%, to $24.27. Including items, net income for the quarter was $164 million, or 22 cents a share, compared with $111 million or 16 cents a share, last year on a pro forma basis. The weak dollar gave Symantec a $26 million lift; without it, growth would only have been 35%. Looking to the fourth or April quarter, the company told investors to expect revenue to range from $690 million to $710 million. At the midpoint of that guidance, pro forma earnings will be 24 cents a share, the company said. For the same period, analysts were expecting a 23-cent profit and sales of $685 million. When Symantec's merger with Veritas Software ( VRTS) was announced before the market opened on Dec. 16, the deal was valued at $13.5 billion, making it the largest-ever software merger, eclipsing the hostile takeover of PeopleSoft by Oracle ( ORCL) for $10.3 billion. Wall Street's reaction to the merger was negative. Since early December, when news began leaking out, Symantec's stock has dropped about 25%, reducing the value of the all-stock deal to roughly $12.2 billion.