Symantec's Q1 hurt by slow spending

Antivirus software vendor Symantec lowered its first-quarter earnings forecast on Thursday, blaming weak spending by consumers and small businesses worldwide along with negative foreign currency effects.

Sales for the period, ending June 29, are likely to be between $US225 million and $235 million, down from its previous forecast of $255 million to $263 million, Symantec said in a statement. In the first quarter of last year, the vendor reported sales of $225.4 million.

As a result of the lowered forecast, earnings per share are expected to be between $0.39 and $0.47, compared to Symantec's previous guidance of $0.62 to $0.67. The company reported earnings per share of $0.60 a year ago, excluding acquisition related and one-time charges, Symantec said.

The software maker said it expects revenue for its September quarter to be flat compared with the June quarter. Percentage revenue growth for fiscal 2002 as a whole will likely be in the mid to high teens over last year's revenue of $944.6 million, Symantec said.

Ahead of the announcement, Symantec's (SYMC) shares on the Nasdaq ended the regular trading up 5.6 per cent, at $61.31. The stock took a beating in the after-hours markets, however, tumbling 22.5 per cent to $45.00 at ths time of this report, according to Reuters Instinet.