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McAfee's Guidance In Line

The anitvirus software company's third-quarter profit drops from the year before.
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Updated from 5:20 p.m. EDT

Strong sales of antivirus software to consumers drove a 14% increase in total revenue for



, but earnings dropped sharply against a tough year-over-year comparison.

The company earned a profit of $23 million, or 13 cents a diluted share, McAfee reported after the bell Thursday. Last year, the company posted a profit of $118 million, or 70 cents a share.

But last year's big bottom line was fattened by a one-time gain of $187 million generated primarily from the sale of the company's Sniffer business.

Total revenue in the September quarter was $253 million, compared with $221.6 million a year ago.

Excluding items, EPS was $63 million, or 37 cents per diluted share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were looking for a 29-cent profit on the same basis with revenue of $240.2 million.

Consumer revenue in the September quarter grew 26% year over year to $116 million. Revenue from online consumer services grew by 55% as the company added 1.9 million net new subscribers.

If revenue from sold-off businesses -- Sniffer, Magic, and McAfee Research -- is excluded, sales grew by 20% year over year. Sniffer and Magic were sold in 2004, McAfee Research in April of this year.

Shares of Santa Clara-based McAfee dipped on the news and are now flat at $30.66.

For the fourth quarter, McAfee expects net revenue in the range of $255 million to $280 million and non-GAAP earnings of 33 cents to 39 cents a share. Analysts were projecting a 37-cent profit on sales of $271.8 million.

McAfee also issued preliminary guidance for 2006, saying it expects net revenue to range from $1.15 billion and $1.25 billion, representing growth of 20% at the midrange. Non-GAAP earnings per share will fall between $1.35 and $1.50.

Analysts were projecting a profit of $1.38 a share on revenue of $1.1 billion.