Shares of Symantec and VMware were recently down 3.27% and 3.04% respectively. Vasco Data Security shares were down 3.57% today.

Citigroup analyst Brent Thill also described a gloomy outlook for the software sector in a note released Wednesday, cutting estimates on 11 of 22 stocks, including Symantec, VMware, Citrix ( CTXS) and Microsoft ( MSFT).

"Set against a deteriorating global macro backdrop (credit crunch, FX trends, expectations for below-trend PC unit growth in 2009) industry checks are not encouraging," he writes. Thill says his firm's concern is less about third-quarter earnings than on fourth-quarter guidance, the 2009 outlook and a more pronounced slowdown in the first quarter.

More bad news came from a report from JMP Securities, which warned that next year could be the worst for enterprise software spending since 2001.

The firm, which recently surveyed 35 enterprises, revealed that some 74% of respondents expect their spending to be flat or down in 2009.

"The previous low point was our December 2001 survey when 72% expected their spending to be flat or down," writes analyst Patrick Walravens, adding that JMP is reducing its estimates for Actuate ( ACTU), CDC ( CHINA), DemandTec ( DMAN), Informatica ( INFA), Starlims ( LIMS), Omniture ( OMTR), Kenexa ( KNXA) and RightNow Technologies ( RNOW).

According to Walravens, on-demand software, which is paid for only when customers are using it, is at least faring better than traditionally licensed software."On-demand software seems healthier, but not great," he writes. "Fifty percent of the enterprises surveyed expect their on-demand software spending to be up in 2009, and 50% expect it to be flat or down."

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