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Network Associates yesterday saw its shares take a battering due to a warning that first quarter earnings would fall short of analysts’ expectations. The US-based software security company also announced a $169 million adjustment to acquisition write-offs taken last year. Shares fell 26 per cent in anticipation of the announcement, closing at $21.94. 21 million shares moved, with stock changing hands after hours at $19.25, according to Instinet in today’s Wall Street Journal. Network Associates, known for its antivirus software, had beaten analysts’ forecasts for 21 straight quarters. It expects to report 30 – 32 cents earnings per share, compared to analysts’ estimates of 48 cents, according to First Call in the Wall Street Journal. CEO William Larson blamed slowing customer demand and fear over Year 2000 compliancy. "It appears there is a general slowdown of demand across multiple sectors of the technology industry," said Larson. He added: "It's going to be an interesting year for technology." The company’s rivals have also had financial troubles. AXENT Technologies has issued a warning and ING Baring Furman Selz today downgraded Check Point Software Technologies, saying there was "concern that demand for network security has slowed in the first quarter." Network Associates’ shares were down 6 1/16 this afternoon at 15 7/8.®

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