NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Symantec (SYMC) has shocked Wall Street, announcing the surprise exit of president and CEO Steve Bennett, marking its third CEO change in just over five years.

Shares are spiraling on the news. By midafternoon, the stock is down 12.3% to $18.33.

Trading volume of 43.7 million is more than six times its three-month daily average.

Bennett held the position since 2012 and led the charge in a turnaround plan which involved targets of more than 5% organic growth and over 30% adjusted operating margin by fiscal 2017.

The firm said Bennett's termination was a result of an ongoing deliberative process rather than any event or impropriety.

Until a permanent replacement has been found, board member Michael Brown will act as interim president and CEO.

Over the last few quarters, the company has struggled with declining PC sales dampening the take-up rate of its Norton antivirus software. Mountain View, Calif.-based Symantec reiterated its fourth-quarter guidance of revenue between $1.615 billion and $1.655 billion and adjusted earnings of 40 cents to 42 cents a share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters anticipate quarterly revenue of $1.644 billion and earnings of 42 cents a share.

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TheStreet Ratings team rates SYMANTEC CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of B+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate SYMANTEC CORP (SYMC) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, reasonable valuation levels, growth in earnings per share, expanding profit margins and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and greatly outperformed compared to the Software industry average. The net income increased by 31.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $216.00 million to $283.00 million.
  • SYMANTEC CORP has improved earnings per share by 33.3% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, SYMANTEC CORP reported lower earnings of $1.05 versus $1.57 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.86 versus $1.05).
  • The gross profit margin for SYMANTEC CORP is currently very high, coming in at 88.15%. Regardless of SYMC's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 16.59% trails the industry average.
  • SYMC, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 10.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 4.8%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: SYMC Ratings Report

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