Shareholders pushing Symantec to split up?

Source says "activist" stockholders see break-up of company as best payoff

Some shareholders of computer security software veteran Symantec may be getting restless. According to an article in Friday's New York Post, "activist" shareholders have been buying Symantec common stock (NASDAQ: SYMC) "and may pressure the company to split up. The activists have also been speaking to suitors and other large shareholders."

The rumor, based on a Post "source," pushed Symantec shares Friday morning as high as 17.64, or 6.5 percent above Thursday's closing price of 16.57. By noon, shares were up nearly 3 percent to 17.06. Symantec has yet to comment on the rumor, but the Post reported that a major shareholder believes the company could get $22 to $26 per share if it split up. As to how it would divide the business, TheStreet on Friday said "there is speculation that a split would separate the company's security and storage businesses. The software specialist has struggled with execution issues, particularly following its $13.5 billion acquisition of storage management firm Veritas in 2005." Symantec has had problems growing revenue in the past two years. The company's fiscal 2010 revenue of $5.99 billion was down from 2009's $6.15 billion. Through two quarters in fiscal 2011, Symantec is running about even in terms of revenue, while earnings were down for the past two quarters.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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