has yet to drag out the heavy artillery, but the antivirus maker has quietly escalated its war with
and Internet service providers by holding the line on -- and even cutting -- prices on key consumer security products for the first time in several years.
Announced Monday, the new pricing hasn't had much effect on the company's shares, probably because management said during an earlier earnings call that potential pricing changes have been factored into guidance.
A number of analysts commented on the move, but none changed estimates for the coming period.
Several analysts warned, however, that the price cuts may well worry investors and that there could be downward pressure on the stock.
Symantec cut the price for its stand-alone Norton AntiVirus product by $10 to $39.95, while the integrated Norton Internet Security retail price stays the same at $69.95.
Goldman Sachs analyst Sarah Friar said "the lack of a price increase for the first time in several years will be a disappointment and underscores that consumer growth is decelerating significantly."
Consumer sales were up 28% year over year in the company's first quarter of 2005, less than half the growth the company enjoyed a year ago, when fear about the virus menace was at its height.
Symantec's guidance for the September quarter -- a 20-cent profit on sales of $1.18 billion -- disappointed Wall Street.
The price cuts are aimed at staving off competition from Microsoft's OneCare antivirus service and moves by services providers, most notably
AOL, which gives security software to consumers at no charge.
Symantec's management has said that it views sales of security software as relatively inelastic, meaning that a price increase wouldn't hurt sales, leading some analysts to speculate that the company could raise renewal fees. So far, though, Symantec has not said whether it will change those prices.
In recent trading, shares were up 55 cents, or 2.6%, to $21.41, after losing 34 cents on Monday.