(Updates with stock price)

Networking equipment manufacturer 3Com ( COMS) met Wall Street's earnings and revenue estimates in its fourth-quarter results, as the firm side-stepped the worst of the economic downturn.

The Marlborough, Mass.-based firm earned 5 cents a share on net income of $20.2 million, compared with a net loss of 41 cents a share and $166.7 million in the same period last year. However, the prior year's quarter included a $158 million impairment charge related to 3Com's acquisition of security specialist Tipping Point.

3Com posted revenue of $295.1 million during the fourth quarter, down from $321.3 million in the year-ago quarter, but just above analysts' estimate of $294.8 million.

"3Com had a solid and very satisfying year, we delivered four successful quarters of improved financial performance," said 3Com CEO Bob Mao during a conference call before the market opened Thursday. "Despite the ongoing economic crisis, I am pleased to report that 3Com has managed well throughout this turbulent year."

3Com's revenue for the full year was $1.317 billion, up slightly from $1.294 billion in the prior year, and roughly in line with analysts' forecast of $1.32 billion.

"We were able to modestly increase our revenue during a year when the overall networking market declined," said Mao, during the conference call. "For fiscal year 2010, we will focus on growing our market share, particularly outside of China."

Excluding charges, 3Com earned 45 cents a share on net income of $176.7 million in fiscal 2009, compared with 23 cents a share and net income $94.9 million in the prior year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected earnings of 41 cents a share.

Looking ahead, 3Com said it expects first-quarter revenue between $270 million and $280 million. Analysts, on the other hand, expect revenue of $301.1 million and earnings of 7 cents a share during the first quarter.

3Com, which competes with networking giant Cisco ( CSCO) and Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), recently announced plans to expand its Chinese H3C subsidiary into the rest of the world, a move that could have major ramifications for the company.

Cisco's recent decision to enter the server market gives 3Com a golden opportunity to boost its networking business. The networking specialist, known for its aggressive pricing, is clearly looking to sell more of its gear in Cisco's back yard.

3Com shares were falling 6.2% to $4.41 in recent trading.

If you liked this article you might like

When Is a Bubble Not a Bubble?

When Is a Bubble Not a Bubble?

Bulls Embrace the Coming Jobs Report

Bulls Embrace the Coming Jobs Report

Flying Cars, Jetpacks Have Arrived

Flying Cars, Jetpacks Have Arrived

H-P Closing In on 3Com: Report

H-P Closing In on 3Com: Report

Brocade's a Buy, Says Analyst

Brocade's a Buy, Says Analyst