October 31, 2008 / 2:53 AM / 10 years ago

WRAPUP 1-McAfee, Akamai beat forecast;Harry Potter delay zaps EA

* McAfee Q3 EPS of 53 cents beats estimates by 4 cents

* Akamai Q3 adjusted EPS $0.40 tops Wall St forecast $0.39

* Electronic Arts cuts profit outlook, shares fall 14 pct

By Jim Finkle

BOSTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - McAfee Inc MFE.N and Akamai Technologies Inc (AKAM.O) posted upbeat results as the two tech companies that sell software products via subscription benefited from recurring revenue streams.

But Electronic Arts Inc ERTS.O said a delay in releasing the latest “Harry Potter” video game until after Christmas meant the company won’t meet its full-year profit forecast.

Akamai shares rose 12 percent and Electronic Arts fell 14 percent in after hours trade. McAfee was little changed.

The reports from McAfee and Akamai compared with a string of negative earnings releases earlier in the earning season as executives have either warned that their business is slowing along with the economy or that the outlook is so uncertain they simply cannot issue a forecast for the rest of the year.

“People forget that McAfee and Akamai are not dependent on day-to-day spending. There is sustainability in the earnings of both of these companies,” said Jefferies and Co. analyst Katherine Egbert. “Most of their revenue is recurring.”

Information technology services company Affiliated Computer Services Inc (ACS.N) also squeezed by without major trauma — although it plans changes.

“Our first-quarter results reflect the resiliency of our business model, which is built on long-term contracts and recurring revenue,” Chief Executive Lynn Blodgett said in a statement.

It posted a quarterly profit of 89 cents, 2 cents ahead of forecasts.

But the Texas-based company, which has 63,000 employees, said that economic realities mean it needs to move another 4,200 jobs offshore.

McAfee Chief Executive Dave DeWalt said his company is benefiting because it recently upgraded its products and expanded their functionality, a strategy that has allowed him to take market share away from bigger rival Symantec Corp (SYMC.O).

Shares in Symantec, which sells software for backing up computers and managing data centers in addition to security products, plunged 18 percent in regular Nasdaq trade on Thursday.

Symantec had issued a grim earnings outlook late on Wednesday, saying there was a “pause” in corporate buying.

DeWalt said he is not seeing the same slowdown in sales.

“The economy got worse and we got better,” DeWalt said.

McAfee reported that profit excluding items rose 14 percent to $82 million, or 53 cents in the third quarter ended Sept. 30. That beat the average analyst estimate by 4 cents.

Its fourth-quarter forecasts were also ahead of the Wall Street view.


Akamai, which helps companies such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) deliver online music and video, reported profit excluding items of 40 cents a share, compared to 34 cents a year earlier. That was a penny above the average analyst estimate, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose 22 percent to $197.3 million, beating the average analyst forecast of $195.3 million.

The shares soared 12 percent in after-hours trade, even as the company warned of a slower-than-expected fourth quarter and some weakness in 2009.

Chief Executive Paul Sagan said the company was cautious about the holiday season. He cited uncertainty about media and advertising spending as well as online sales.

“There’s a lot of concern out there, about consumer spending, both online and off line,” he said. “Our customers don’t know what their customers are going to do.”

Sun Microsystems Inc JAVA.O was far more pessimistic.

The maker of high-end business computers reported a $1.7 billion loss for the quarter ended Sept. 30. It declined to issue an earnings outlook and asked analysts not to bring up the matter when questioning executives on a conference call.

“It was a challenging quarter. Certainly, Sun - along with our customers - is experiencing a slowdown as a result of the challenging economic environment,” Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz said.

He said he is planning to implement cost-cutting measures but declined to elaborate.

Microchip-equipment maker KLA-Tencor Corp (KLAC.O) said on Thursday quarterly profit fell 78 percent and revenue slid 23 percent, as the semiconductor industry continued to feel the effects of economic slowdown.

The company said net earnings in its fiscal first-quarter ended Sept. 30 dropped to $19.3 million, or 11 cents a share, from $88.2 million, or 46 cents a share, in the year-ago period. (Additional reporting by Ritsuko Ando, John Tilak, Anupreeta Das, Gabriel Madway; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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