Symantec's Growth Vision Is Cloudy

Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC  ) is a titan in the tech world and a household name thanks to its inveterate Norton line of security products. If you squint a certain way, the company even looks like a turnaround story at the moment.

But should you really strain your eyesight on Symantec's behalf? I'm not so sure.

In the recently reported fourth quarter, Symantec saw sales rise 9% year-over-year to $1.7 billion, while non-GAAP earnings fell 5% to $0.38 per share. If those numbers don't impress you, consider that revenue grew just 4.3% a year ago and 3.6% last quarter -- and that Symantec wasn't even profitable two years ago. This is an improvement.

One of the drivers of Symantec's modest growth was the software-as-a-service market, also known as cloud computing. That makes sense, given how the cloud model is engulfing enterprise IT environments the world over like a giant kudzu on your data center's raised floor.

But investing in Symantec based on its cloud mojo doesn't sound like a great idea. There are too many greater alternatives in the market to make it worthwhile.

For example, in the past 12 months, virtual machine specialist VMware (NYSE: VMW  ) reported more than 40% annual revenue growth over the previous year, storage expert NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP  ) saw 31% stronger sales, and network security guru Check Point Software Technologies (Nasdaq: CHKP  ) collected 16% higher sales. By way of comparison, Symantec's tally stops at 3.4%.

All of these oblique rivals are riding the cloud craze much more effectively than Symantec, which remains partially mired in the cloud-agnostic consumer sector.

If you want to see the very best way to invest in the cloud revolution, you should click here right now to grab our free special report on this exciting market. Here's a hint: We're not talking about Symantec.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended VMware and Check Point Software Technologies. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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