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has climbed 13% this year as technology darlings


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Research in Motion


have each increased more than 30%.

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Tech stocks remain investor favorites because of their clean balance sheets, high margins and growth prospects. Santa Clara, California-based



is a mid-cap technology company that has enjoyed a solid run, but is due for further gains as consumer and business spending rebound.

In addition, McAfee is set to benefit from an Obama administration report last month that said so-called cybersecurity is critical for the country's information infrastructure and national security.

McAfee supplies computer-security services for both individual computers and networks. The company posted a record first-quarter performance, aided by a 9% revenue boost from the addition of San Jose, California-based

Secure Computing

, which was acquired last September. Dave DeWalt, who joined McAfee as chief executive officer in 2007 after overseeing sales at



, led the purchase.

Sales rose 21% to $448 million, as corporate revenue increased 28% and consumer revenue gained 12%. North America was the strongest growth region, increasing quarterly revenue by 34%. Latin America and Japan boosted sales 31%. McAfee has impressive global diversification. International revenue accounted for about 41% of first-quarter turnover.

At the same time, net income ascended 77% to $54 million, and earnings per share climbed 89%.

Still, McAfee's financial position deteriorated slightly as a result of the Secure Computing acquisition. Since the first quarter of fiscal 2008, the cash balance has declined 6% to $752 million and debt went from zero to $100 million. A debt-to-equity ratio of 0.13 indicates a relatively strong financial position. TheStreet.com Ratings gives McAfee a financial strength score of 7.9 out of 10. It's rated "buy."

Shares of McAfee have risen 14% so far in 2009, in line with the Nasdaq. However, at its current price, the stock is somewhat expensive. A price-to-earnings ratio of 31 indicates that McAfee trades at a 10% premium to its average peer in the systems-software industry. But on the basis of growth potential, the stock remains attractive.

TSC Ratings provides exclusive stock, ETF and mutual fund ratings and commentary based on award-winning, proprietary tools. Its "safety first" approach to investing aims to reduce risk while seeking solid outperformance on a total return basis.