The newest consumer enemy is big and bad. It's identity theft.
Visions of sweet little old ladies being defrauded out of their life savings at the hands of door-to-door salesmen have been replaced by nameless, faceless villains who creep around in cyberspace stealing identities and cash.
To the rescue are companies such as a href="/research/iw50best/2006/iw50BestCompany.asp?Input=268">Symantec Corp., which offer anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing and anti-keylogger protection via its Norton-brand security software.
Twenty years ago those terms would be found only in science fiction novels. Today they are household terms.
And for Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec, they are the reason for existence.
Making its debut on the IW 50 Best Manufacturers list for 2006, Symantec posted $2.58 billion in revenue for 2005, a 38% jump from 2004 numbers. For fourth-quarter 2006, which ended March 31, Symantec earned $1.24 billion in revenue.
The company has been busy defending identities and its place in the security-provider business and beyond. It acquired several companies, including Relicore Inc., a provider of data center change and configuration management; IMlogic Inc., an instant-messaging software provider; and it merged with Veritas Software Corp., a storage-management solution provider. According to Symantec, the merger was a marriage made in heaven that combines storage software and security software.
For critics and many former executives, the merger's honeymoon was short-lived.
Many senior-level executives left Symantec following the July 2005 merger. They include COO John Schwarz, CFO Greg Myers and President and Vice Chairman Gary Bloom.
In an April 12, 2006, interview with journalists at the company headquarters, Chairman and CEO John Thompson addressed questions about the departures.
"As far as executive departures, we have a rich bench. We've restructured the company with [Senior Vice President] Jeremy Burton, [Senior Vice President] Enrique Salem and James Beer, a professional and well-seasoned CFO from American Airlines."
Thompson also addressed this question: "You've said that investors didn't all get the idea behind the Veritas merger. The stock is still down - do they still not get it?"
"I don't know," said Thompson. "While I don't want to be as cavalier as to say I don't care, I'm not going to spend any more of my time trying to convince people that they have to buy into this. I'm done trying to pitch the Veritas-Symantec merger. We're now focusing on executing."
At A Glance
Primary Industry: Publishing and Printing
Number of employees: 6,500
2005 In Review
Revenue: $2.58 billion
Profit Margin: 20.76%
Sales Turnover: .46
Inventory Turnover: 23.54
Revenue Growth: 38.11%
Return On Assets: 12.03%
Return On Equity: 22.10%
The company also is focusing on flaws in its software.
Over the Memorial Day weekend Symantec celebrated by repairing a flaw in its corporate versions of anti-virus software. Apparently the flaw, which did not compromise consumer versions of the software, would let hackers steal sensitive data, delete files or implant malicious programs.
Symantec jumped on the problem and offered a patch to repair the flaw. The company's speedy response earned respect in an industry that often takes months to repair issues.
With speed comes delay. Symantec is pushing back the release of its Web-based security service until March 2007, according to a May 31, 2006, press release. The service will bolster the company's 62% share of the consumer security market, according to Symantec.
"In July we will make a large public beta [test] available," said Enrique Salem. "The feedback from our customers, the feedback from our channel partners will help us decide when we make the product available to our customers."
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