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Symantec Squeezes Out Higher Profit

Symantec juggles profit as fourth-quarter sales slip.

Software maker


(SYMC) - Get Symantec Corporation Report

beat Wall Street's profit estimate in its fourth-quarter results, but saw its revenue slip.

Excluding charges, Symantec posted earnings of 38 cents a share, up 6% on the same period last year and above analysts' estimate of 35 cents.

The firm's GAAP earnings were a different story, however, and Symantec swung to a loss of 30 cents a share from earnings of 22 cents in the prior year's quarter.

Symantec CEO Enrique Salem told

that an impairment charge of $7.4 billion was to blame for the loss, but he still sees plenty of opportunities to sell software.

"We continue to see strength in enterprise backup, storage management, data loss prevention and our consumer business," he said. "All customers have critical data that they need to protect."

The CEO, who recently took over from John Thompson at the Symantec helm, admitted that the economy has changed customers' spending patterns.

"Customers are looking for shorter terms for the new licenses they purchase," he said, explaining that these are often for one year terms, rather than two or three. "We're not immune to what is happening in our customers' environments."

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Symantec posted fourth-quarter revenue of $1.47 billion, down from $1.54 billion in the same period last year. Analysts had expected revenue of $1.52 billion.

For the full year, Symantec's sales came in at $6.15 billion, compared to $5.87 billion in the prior year, but just below analysts' forecast of $6.23 billion. The

security software

specialist still enjoyed record non-GAAP revenue of $6.2 billion, up 5% on the prior year.

Investors responded negatively to Symantec's results, and the software specialist's shares dipped 75 cents, or 4.27%, to $16.84 in extended trading.

Symantec, which competes with





(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

, expects revenue between $1.44 billion and $1.55 billion for the first quarter, in line with analysts' estimate of $1.51 billion. Excluding charges, the firm expects earnings between 34 and 36 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial are predicting earnings of 35 cents a share.