Shares of McAfee ( MFE) surged Friday after it reported strong third-quarter results on strong sales of its security software.

The company's results, which were reported late Thursday, were closely watched by industry watchers after McAfee's rival Symantec ( SYMC) had reported sluggish growth earlier this week in its security business.

Symantec also issued cautious third-quarter guidance, prompting speculation that security software may have lost its "recession-proof' reputation.

McAfee's strong results boosted its shares 9% in early trading Friday. The software company's third-quarter revenue was $409.7 million, up 27% from the same period a year ago, and well above analyst estimates of $395.21 million.

The firm also issued an optimistic fourth-quarter guidance Thursday, indicating strong demand for its products during the coming months. Fourth-quarter revenue is expected to be between $400 million and $420 million, compared to the consensus estimate of $405.5 million.

The company also expects fourth quarter net income of 54 to 60 cents a share. Its adjusted earnings are expected to between 50 cents and 56 cents a share, compared to analysts' estimate of 52 cents a share.

McAfee's shares rose $2.50, or 9.01%, to $30.25, Friday.

Despite an increasingly uncertain economic climate, McAfee experienced strong third-quarter growth in its North American and consumer businesses, which helped boost revenue.

Sales of McAfee's software in North America grew by almost a third compared to the same period last year, accounting for more than half of the company's total revenue. McAfee's consumer products also enjoyed good growth, with sales up 20% on the prior year.

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