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Symantec 4Q Net Soars On Joint Venture Sale

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Symantec Corp.'s (SYMC) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings surged as the software maker reported a substantial gain from the sale of ownership in a joint venture. For the fiscal first quarter, the company predicted earnings of 37 cents to 38 cents a share on revenue of $1.65 billion to $1.66 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters most recently projected 39 cents and $1.66 billion, respectively. Symantec, which provides its trademark Norton security products for personal computers, last year agreed to sell its 49% stake in a joint venture with Chinese communications equipment company Huawei Technologies Co. to its partner for about $530 million. The company last week lowered its earnings and revenue guidance for the quarter, warning of the challenges brought on by changing its business model to focus more on selling software as a service by subscription than selling software licenses. For the quarter ended March 30, Symantec posted a profit of $559 million, or 76 cents a share, from $168 million, or 22 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest period included a gain of about $526 million from the sale of its Huawei-Symantec joint venture. Excluding that gain and other items, earnings were flat at 38 cents. Revenue increased 0.5% to $1.68 billion. The company said last week that subscriptions contributed 41% of revenue in the quarter, compared with 38% in the year-ago period. Last week, the company forecast earnings of about 38 cents a share on revenue of $1.68 billion, below its January view. Operating margin narrowed to 11.4% from 14.3%. Sales grew 2% in the company's consumer segment, which made up 31% of revenue in the latest quarter. The security-and-compliance segment reported an 8% increase in sales, while revenue from the storage-and-server-management segment fell 6%. Shares closed Wednesday at $16.43 and were unchanged after hours. The stock is up 5% so far in 2012. -By Ben Fox Rubin, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3108;

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