Symantec 3Q Profit Up 31 Pct; Sales Outlook Weak

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) -

Security software maker Symantec Corp. on Wednesday reported that net income in its fiscal third quarter rose 31 percent, after a change in its sales strategy.

But its revenue outlook was a bit weaker than expected, and shares fell.

Profit in the three months that ended on Dec. 27 rose to $283 million, or 40 cents per share, from $216 million, or 31 cents per share, in the same period in 2012.

Excluding such items as restructuring costs, adjusted earnings came to 51 cents per share, beating the 43 cents per share expected by analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue fell 5 percent to $1.71 billion. Wall Street predicted $1.66 billion.

Splitting the sales organization into renewal and new business teams gave results a boost, said CEO Steve Bennett said in a statement.

“While we won’t be pleased until total business activity is growing again, I’m happy with our financial results, given the massive changes in our business,” he said.

The company forecast fourth-quarter revenue of $1.62 billion to $1.66 billion. Analysts predicted $1.65 billion for the quarter, which runs through March. Its adjusted earnings outlook of 40 to 42 cents per share bracketed Wall Street’s estimate of 41 cents per share.

Shares fell 70 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $23.45 in after-hours trading. Earlier, shares closed up 85 cents, or 3.7 percent, at $24.15.