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Symantec yesterday posted bumper earnings on the back of recent viral epidemics - like Sobig and Slammer - that have boosted consumer demand for its anti-virus products.

For the quarter ending October 3, 2003 (Q2 2004). Symantec posted revenue of $429 million, up 32 per cent from 325 million in the same quarter last year. Net income for Q2 2004 was $83 million, compared to $52 million in Q2 2003.

Symantec said its results were "driven by strong enterprise security growth and higher than expected results in the consumer segment".

As usually happens, a spate has viruses has spurred demand for Norton AntiVirus - which remains inexplicably popular despite the fact a free alternative (AVG from GRISoft) is easier to use, smaller and free of the garish colour design characteristic of NAV [That's enough ranting - Ed].

Symantec's enterprise security business represented 41 percent of total revenue and grew 25 per cent year-over-year. The company's consumer business grew 56 per cent and represented 45 per cent of total revenue. The rest of Symantec's revenue consists of services revenue (increasing from a low base) and enterprise administration business (12 per cent of revenues but declining).

International revenues grew 39 per cent over Q2 2004 and represented half (50 per cent) of Symantec's total sales for the quarter. Canada led the increase for the quarter with 49 per cent growth, followed by the Europe, Middle East and Africa region with 46 per cent growth. Japan recorded 27 per cent year-on-year growth.

Looking ahead, Symantec expects Q3 2004 revenues to be between $440 to $460 million. For the year ending April 2 2004, Symantec predicts that revenues come out at around $1.73 billion.

During the quarter, Symantec introduced a new line of firewall appliances, the Symantec Gateway Security 5400 Series (which feature firewall, intrusion prevention, intrusion detection, antivirus, content filtering, virtual private networking (VPN), and anti-spam technology in a single device).

In addition, Symantec launched its 2004 line of consumer security products including Norton Internet Security, Norton AntiVirus, Norton Personal Firewall, Norton AntiSpam and Norton SystemWorks, which includes Norton Password Manager.

Symantec, like Sophos before it, has seen revenues grow even as the spread of viruses such as Sobig and Slammer reveal the shortcomings of the scanner model. In the longer term, managed services and behaviour blocking technology may threaten this comfortable business but right now traditional AV vendors are raking it in. Even if the market matures, Symantec is still covered thanks to the intrusion prevention technology that came with its acquisition of security firm Axent a couple of years ago. ®

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