Security software company

Symantec

(SYMC) - Get Report

beat analysts' revenue and earnings estimates but swung to a $6.8 billion loss in its third-quarter results Wednesday, thanks to an impairment charge of $7 billion.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company posted third-quarter revenue of $1.51 billion, essentially flat compared to the previous year's quarter, comfortably beating analyst estimates of $1.48 billion. Excluding charges, Symantec reported revenue of $1.54 billion.

Thanks to the firm's impairment charge, Symantec reported a third-quarter loss of $8.23 a share, compared to earnings of 15 cents a share in the same period last year. Excluding charges, Symantec's earnings were 42 cents a share on net income of $350 million, compared to 33 cents a share and $292 million in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had estimated earnings of 32 cents a share.

"We're very pleased with the results we delivered,"

Symantec COO Enrique Salem

told

TheStreet.com

, explaining that the firm's numbers were stronger than expected in some of its key markets. "The Americas performed well, up 7%, and our storage products did well."

The software company, which had warned that sales could be sluggish in the third quarter, expects fourth-quarter revenue between $1.475 billion and $1.525 billion, compared to analysts' estimates of $1.51 billion. Symantec also forecasts earnings between 33 cents a share and 35 cents a share, above Wall Street's estimate of 32 cents.

The non-cash goodwill impairment charge is still being finalized and should be completed in the fourth quarter, according to Symantec.

"Based on a combination of factors, including the current economic environment and a decline in our market capitalization, we concluded that there were sufficient indicators to require us to perform an interim goodwill impairment analysis," it said, in a statement.

Symantec, which competes with

EMC

(EMC)

and

McAfee

(MFE)

, is seen as one of the tech companies best positioned to meet users' growing need for

security software

.