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Upgrade boosts Network Associates shares

Network Associates shares charged up 2 11/16, or 9 percent, to 33 Tuesday after Pacific Crest Securities upgraded the security software maker from a "market perform" recommendation to a "buy."

It was almost exactly one year ago that Network Associates (Nasdaq: NETA) shares went into a tailspin, falling from a 52-week high of 44 1/2 to a low of 10 1/16 in about six weeks.

With the profit warnings and legal entanglements apparently in the past, some analysts are expecting big things from the company in fiscal 2000.

Following a rash of hack attacks last month, Internet companies of all types and sizes are spending millions to prevent their sites from becoming the next victim.

In its latest quarter, Network Associates posted a profit of $30.1 million, or 20 cents a share, on sales of $218.1 million.

That $218.1 million in sales marked a 20 percent decline from the year-ago quarter, showing the adverse effects of Y2K spending by large corporate clients.

This time around analysts are looking for a profit of 16 cents a share in the first quarter and 90 cents a share in the fiscal year.

However, Wall Street is hardly unanimous in its support of Network Associates.

Following Tuesday's upgrade, 10 of the 19 analysts following the stock still maintain either a "hold" or "sell recommendation.