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McAfee's Big Buying Opportunity

McAfee shares a good bet for investors seeking a cheap tech stock, say analysts.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (TheStreet) -- As security software makerMcAfee (MFE) suits up for a major battle with Symantec (SYMC) - Get Symantec Corporation Report, analysts are seeing plenty of upside in the company's shares.

Katherine Egbert, an analyst at Jefferies & Company, reiterated her McAfee buy rating and $49 target in a note released on Monday, citing a potential bargain for investors.

And earlier this month, UBS

upgraded McAfee

from neutral to buy with a $46 price target, explaining that the company's shares had been on a three-month dip.

Shares of McAfee, which reports its fourth-quarter results on Feb. 11, are trading at just over $39, compared to a 52-week high of $46.58.

Demand for

cybersecurity

products is certainly growing, although Jefferies & Company's Egbert feels that McAfee may not repeat its 2009 performance.

"Growth expectations are lower for 2010 than for 2009," she wrote, adding that McAfee is a "good bet" for investors on the lookout for a cheap tech stock. "We expect revenue growth of 10% versus nearly 20% growth for 2009 -- consensus also calls for 10% growth."

McAfee, which competes with Symantec and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

, has been something of a

Wall Street darling

in the last few years, becoming a major

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challenger

to its more established rivals.

Symantec, however, has increased

pressure

on McAfee, recently clinching a deal with

Comcast

(CMCSA) - Get Comcast Corporation Class A Report

to offer its software to high speed Internet customers. Previously, Comcast had dealt with McAfee's software.

"This clearly shows Symantec getting more aggressive on the OEM front, which makes sense given that McAfee has beaten Symantec on this front over the last few years," wrote Todd Weller, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, in a recent note.

McAfee has hardly been sitting on its hands, though, recently forging deals with

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report

and

Facebook

and allegedly eyeing a partnership with

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get HP Inc. Report

.

"Symantec has had a two year exclusive

deal with HP and our understanding is this agreement expires sometime in the first half of 2010," wrote Weller. "We believe that at the very least McAfee is competing for some of this business with HP -- we would not be surprised to see HP look to divvy it up between multiple vendors."

McAfee, which was one of

TheStreet

's

top tech picks

for 2009, recently posted record

third-quarter

revenue, despite a profit slump.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect the firm to post fourth-quarter revenue of $514.76 million, compared to $424 million in the same period last year. Excluding items, analysts expect McAfee to earn 64 cents a share, up from 53 cents in the prior year's quarter.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

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