Symantec Stumbles on Warning

Shares of Symantec fell 19% Wednesday after the company warned that its December quarter results will come in below expectations.

Symantec’s September quarter results were ahead of expectations, but the company’s guidance for the current quarter — earnings of 25 cents a share on sales of $1.26 billion — was below analysts’ estimates of 27-cent earnings and $1.35 billion in revenues.

The company blamed delays in its Norton 2006 releases and increased competition for the weak guidance, but analysts were also disappointed in the single-digit sales growth in Veritas products during the companies’ first full quarter since their merger closed in early July.

Also weighing on the stock was the announced retirement of CFO Greg Myers, the second high-level departure at the company in recent months.

The broader market fared much better, with tech stocks leading the way higher despite a lackluster response to earnings reports from Symantec, EDS and Sun .

The Nasdaq gained 30 to 2144, the S&P 500 rose 12 to 1214, and the Dow climbed 66 to 10,472. Volume rose to 2.65 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.23 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 24-8 on the NYSE, and 21-9 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 79% on the NYSE, and 74% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 169-95 on the NYSE, and 150-66 on the Nasdaq.

After the close, Priceline jumped 10% after beating estimates, and Qualcomm rose on its results.

During the day, EDS edged higher after beating estimates, while Sun lost 3% after missing sales estimates.

Mercury Interactive plunged 27% after an options investigation forced out its CEO and CFO.

Borland gained 6% on its results, while Asyst , Black Box and Kopin posted double-digit gains on their numbers.

iPayment climbed 11% on a takeover offer.

Interlink plunged 39% on a loss and earnings restatement.

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