SAN FRANCISCO --

EMC's

(EMC)

plan earlier this month to shed about 7% of its workforce whacked the company's fourth-quarter profit, but its forecast of a second-half pickup in IT spending comes as relatively good news.

The storage software maker said Tuesday that net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 fell to $288 million, or 14 cents a share, from $526 million, or 24 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding a 10-cent-a-share restructuring charge, the company posted a profit of 24 cents a share.

Revenue grew 5% to $4.02 billion, slowing down from 13% growth in the company's third quarter.

The results were no real surprise to investors, who were given the key revenue and EPS results three weeks ago when the company

also announced

it would slash 2,400 jobs over the course of the year and suspend planned salary increases.

Shares of EMC were recently off 2.5% to $10.72.

EMC didn't offer a company-specific forecast, citing the now-standard "macro-economic conditions and limited visibility," but it did say that its best estimate was that global IT spending would fall in the mid-to-high-single-digits percentage-wise in 2009 from 2008.

That's not terribly great news, but the company expects its own markets to perform better than the overall market, which is about the best any firm can hope for in a recession.

EMC said in a post-earnings conference call that the company's key markets of storage, archiving and data loss prevention are taking priority in early IT budgets, and moves to cut supplier numbers and the resulting "flight to quality" helps EMC.

EMC also said it expects that a higher-than-usual percentage of full-year spending will come in the second half of the year as companies move further along in their restructurings and possibly benefit from stimulus packages, giving hope to investors who want to see signs of better days ahead by the middle of the year.

Going forward, the question for EMC will be how well the company maintains margins. Analysts have recently been doubtful about the company's performance over the next several quarters due to its key connection with financial customers and a growing aversion to shell out for the company's higher-margin offerings.

The news was less cheery for the company's

VMware

(VMW) - Get Report

unit, which was downgraded Tuesday by BofA/Merrill on the heels of a

first-quarter revenue forecast

Monday that missed analysts' estimates.

Shares of the virtualization software maker were off 3.4% to $21.34; they're now off about 21% from a Jan. 8 high.