Symantec Says More Acquisitions Possible As Company Defends Turf

Symantec officials discuss the possibility of acquisitions and the defense of the company's turf in the security space after announcing strong third-quarter results.

Symantec officials emerged from the third quarter of fiscal 2008 upbeat about both the possibility of acquisitions and Symantec's place in the security market.

While CEO John Thompson stressed that the company had no big acquisition plans looming, he said Symantec will look to buy companies that fit into its plans around security and data management.

"As a general rule we're focused on securing and managing the world's information, and so you should expect us to do transactions within those categories of activity," Thompson said. "Now we also recognize [that] in order to secure and manage the world's information you've got to do more to help them automate their infrastructure, so there's likely to be some server management-related activities we'll engage in as well."

Symantec just acquired Vontu in December 2007 for $350 million, and closed on an $830 million deal for Altiris in April. The Vontu purchase was meant to expand Symantec's footprint in the data loss prevention space at a time when a number of security vendors are also making a similar acquisitions. Thompson said the company will look to integrate Vontu's data loss prevention technology with Enterprise Vault, Symantec Endpoint Protection, and its mail security appliances and storage products.

Click here to read more about Symantec's reasons for buying Vontu.

"The early synergies in both product development and sales from Altiris and Vontu have been encouraging, as they help to underpin new growth initiatives for our company," Thompson said. "It is my belief that these types of acquisitions should add new top-line growth for Symantec and help improve our operating returns. I would expect us to continue to look for acquisitions that drive revenue growth and enhance our net income."

The company earned $1.52 billion in revenue during the fiscal year that ended in December, beating predictions of analysts polled by Thomson Financial that the company would produce $1.45 billion in revenue. Symantec itself had forecast a profit of 25 to 30 cents per share on revenue of $1.43 billion to $1.47 billion.

Symantec's net income rose to $132 million, or 15 cents per share, in its fiscal third quarter, from $117 million, or 12 cents per share, during the same period a year prior.

Read more here about how Symantec integrated Altiris into its product portfolio.

Symantec Chief Operating Officer Enrique Salem reported a high adoption rate for Norton 360, which he said accounted for more than 25 percent of the company's consumer sales-Symantec's most successful consumer launch to date. Version 2.0 of Norton 360 is expected to launch by the end of March, Salem said.

Symantec Endpoint Protection 11.0 has gotten off to a good start as well, Salem said, adding the company shipped 23 million units of SEP.

While Symantec has been challenged in the endpoint security arena by vendors such as McAfee and Sophos, Thompson said the success of Symantec's endpoint product shows the company is defending its turf.

"I think it's quite clear in our results that SEP 11.0 has certainly arrested any declines that we have seen in our endpoint security business," Thompson said.