Symantec CEO: 2Q Pain Spells Long-Term Gain

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Symantec (SYMC) CEO Steve Bennett says he underestimated the effects of the company's massive restructuring effort, which impacted the company's outlook this week. However, the Symantec chief remains confident in his turnaround plan for the software maker.

"We dug ourselves a hole in terms of new license bookings that we're going to have to take a couple of quarters now to dig our way out of," he told TheStreet, during a phone interview following Symantec's second-quarter results on Wednesday. "We're disappointed that we underestimated the impact, but we're convinced that it's the right long-term move for our company."

Bennett characterized the second quarter as the "toughest quarter" in his turnaround plan for Symantec, which was unveiled in January. This involved a complete shift in the company's sales coverage model -- whereas previously, salespeople were generalists selling about 150 different point solutions, now they sell either Information Management or Information Security products.

"It takes a while in these large enterprise accounts to build a pipeline, go meet your new customers," he said. "We were in the first quarter of people with new territories, and getting trained and doing a bunch of stuff to build this pipeline that we are optimistic that will start to deliver benefits in Q3 and Q4."

Symantec also split its sales organization into renewals and new business teams during the quarter and Bennett pointed to management streamlining, which saw 35% of the firm's middle management positions eliminated.

"That obviously is a pretty significant move if you think about doing that and these territory changes, creating the renewals team," he said. "It's a lot of change at the same time, but I think it's way better than dribbling it and being in a transformation mode for two or three years."

On Tuesday Symantec reported revenue of $1.64 billion for the second quarter of its fiscal 2014, down 4% from the prior year's quarter, or 3% adjusted for currency. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast sales of $1.685 billion.

Excluding items, the Mountain View, Calif.-based firm earned 50 cents a share, up from 45 cents in the same period last year. Wall Street was looking for earnings of 44 cents a share.

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