Symantec CEO Digs at Intel/McAfee

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- McAfee's ( SYMC ) pending $7.7 billion acquisition by Intel ( SYMC ) is creating an opportunity for rival software maker Symantec ( SYMC ), according to Enrique Salem, the Symantec CEO, whose firm posted solid third-quarter results on Wednesday.

"We are winning a lot of deals in large enterprises right now," Salem told TheStreet in an interview after market close. "I definitely feel like McAfee is a bit distracted -- customers are asking 'are they a credible long-term security provider or will they get basically subsumed within Intel?'"
Symantec CEO Enrique Salem believes that rival McAfee is distracted by its pending acquisition by Intel.

Chipmaker Intel announced its surprise $7.7 million acquisition of McAfee last August. The deal, which received E.U. approval earlier this week, is expected to close by the end of the first quarter.

"We believe Symantec is likely deriving some benefits related to Intel's pending acquisition of McAfee," added Todd Weller, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, in a note released on Thursday. "We think history shows that in these instances some degree of distraction is inevitable."

McAfee, however, which reports its fourth-quarter results next month, scoffed at Salem's comments. "While we won't comment on our most recent quarter's financial performance prior to the official release of our results on February 8, we can comfortably say that we have not seen any increased levels of competition from Symantec," said a spokesman, in an email to TheStreet. "Furthermore, we remain very comfortable with our ability as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intel to effectively drive innovation in the security industry for decades to come."

The Intel deal had no impact on McAfee's most recent results, as the software maker cruised past Wall Street's third-quarter estimates, boosted by government and enterprise sales.

Analysts are looking for McAfee to report fourth-quarter revenue of $544.82 million and earnings of 69 cents a share, up from $525.7 million and 64 cents a share in the same period last year.

Symantec's Salem told TheStreet that the broader IT spending environment looks healthy, echoing recent comments from IBM ( IBM ) and Intel. "The big mega-trends are mobility, virtualization and cloud computing," he told TheStreet. "These issues are definitely driving a tech refresh cycle.

Salem, however, was less forthcoming on recent rumors that Symantec was coming under pressure to separate its security and storage businesses.

"I keep an open mind about what is synergistic with the company's long-term vision," he said. "But there's nothing to announce today."

Symantec shares rose 85 cents, or 4.76%, to $18.65 on Thursday, far outpacing the modest advance in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq rise 0.35%.

McAfee's stock dipped 5 cents, or 0.1%, to $47.89.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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