SAN FRANCISCO (Dow Jones)--Intel Corp. (INTC)'s $7.7 billion bid for McAfee Inc. (MFE) highlights the growing importance of mobile security, a field that is expanding rapidly as handheld devices become more important to both consumer and business users.
On Thursday, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant said it will pay $48 for each share of McAfee, a 60% premium to Wednesday's closing price. The deal will help Intel incorporate McAfee security products into its chips.
The deal comes as computing moves away from desktops amid the growth of wireless Internet access, which creates new security threats for users as well as opportunities for security providers. In March, data tracker IDC forecast world-wide mobile-security license and maintenance revenue would more than double to $2.7 billion by 2014 from $1.3 billion in 2009.
The Intel-McAfee deal, as well as the explosion of threats, may rekindle interest U.S. publicly traded security companies, like Symantec Corp. (SYMC) and Websense Inc. (WBSN). It may also pique interest in overseas security companies, such as Japan's Trend Micro Inc. (4704.TO), Finland's F-Secure Oyj (FSC1V.HE), as well as privately held companies like Spain's Panda Security and Russia's Kaspersky Lab.
"This deal opens the eyes of investors to the value of the security market, which over the past year has been out of favor," said Daniel Ives, a senior analyst with FBR Capital Markets & Co. in New York.
Investors quickly reacted to the deal, bidding up shares of McAfee competitors that might now be on the radar screens of potential partners or buyers. In late afternoon trading, Symantec shares were up 6.7% at $13.45, while Websense Inc. was up 5.2% at 19.40.
"Maybe some of Intel's competitors need to have tighter relationship with security companies to emulate what Intel is doing," said Steve Ashley, an analyst at Robert W. Baird.
Like McAfee, Mountain View, Calif.-based Symantec has rushed to be part of the mobile security landscape. In May, Symantec unveiled Norton Everywhere, a family of products targeted primarily mobile devices. It also made an undisclosed investment in Mocana Corp., a venture-backed San Francisco start-up that specializes in mobile security.
Other firms have done the same. Kaspersky Mobile Security 9, from Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, protects consumer smartphones from data loss, viruses and spam, while Tokyo-based Trend Micro offers two products for protecting mobile phones, one for consumers and one for companies.
by Jeanette Borzo Wall Street Journal August 19, 2010