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Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC) is due with its Q4 results after the close tonight, and analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the company to report a profit of $0.36 per share on revenue of $1.59 billion.

SYMC is favoring a widening pattern in its post-earnings share performance. Shares have outpaced their evening move in 18 of the last 28 quarterly reports.

Longs will notice the issue has gained in 16 instances following earnings news, widening that move in next-day trading seven times, or 44% of the time.

The clearer pattern has developed during negative responses to earnings news. The stock has declined in response to earnings 12 times, extending that move the following day 11 times, or nearly 92% of the time.

On Jan. 26, 2011, SYMC gained 3.2% in evening trading after beating Q2 estimates and setting its guidance mostly above the Street view. The stock lost the bulk of its upside the following day, ending the Jan. 27 regular session up a slim 0.6%.

On Oct. 27, 2010, the stock rose 6% in after-hours trading following a Q2 beat and guidance mostly above the Street view. Shares rose a slimmer 4.1% the next day.

On July 28, 2010, the stock fell 7.9% after meeting with Q1 EPS and guiding below the Street for Q2. Shares dropped 11.1% the next day.

On May 5, 2010, the stock gained 4.1% after a Q4 beat and in-line Q1 guidance. Shares gained a smaller 1.7% the following day.

On Jan. 27, 2010, SYMC lost 3.9% in the evening session after beating Q3 estimates and setting Q4 guidance in line with expectations. It headed deeper in the red the next day, losing 6.4% by the close on Jan. 28.

On Oct. 28, 2009, the stock was up 5.2% after a Q2 beat, despite mixed Q3 guidance. Shares rose 12.7% the next day.

On July 29, 2009, SYMC declined 7.3% in after-hours trading after missing Q1 expectations and setting its Q2 guidance below the Street view. The stock was hammered lower the following day, ending down 14.2% on July 30.

On May 6, 2009, SYMC slumped 4.5% in after-hours trading following better-than-expected earnings, missed revenue results and mixed guidance. The stock added to its downside in the May 7 regular session, ending down 14.8%.

On Jan. 28, 2009, the stock gained 3.5% after beating with Q3 results and guiding in line for Q4. Shares were up 5.6% the next day.

On Oct. 29, 2008, the stock fell 6.8% during evening trading after SYMC beat with earnings but was shy with sales. The loss swelled to 17.6% the next day.

On July 30, 2008, the stock gained 5% during extended-hours trading after SYMC beat with Q1 and guided in line to above the Street for Q2. The stock gained a more robust 7% the next day.

On April 30, 2008, the stock gained 4.3% during evening trading after beating with Q4 results and guiding above the Street for Q1. The gain swelled to 12.3% the next day.

On Jan. 23, 2008, SYMC jumped 9.1% in evening action after topping Q3 estimates and guiding higher. It firmed further north the next day, advancing 10.9% by the closing bell on Jan. 24.

On Oct, 24, 2007, the stock dropped 11.9% after SYMC reported ahead with Q2 results but guided for Q3 below. The stock fell 12% the next day.

On July 25, 2007, the stock advanced 9.7% in evening trading. The gain was a more modest 1% the next day.

On May 2, 2007, SYMC rose 6.2% in night trading on better-than-expected Q4 results. However, shares lost their momentum and ended the next regular session up only 4.8%.

On Jan. 24, 2007, the stock was up 2.8% in the evening hours after beating with results and setting a share buyback. SYMC recorded a like-size move during the next day's regular trading session.

On Oct. 25, 2006, SYMC dropped 7.1% in evening trading after missing Q2 estimates. The shares, though, recovered slightly to close the next day's regular session down 6.2%.

On July 26, 2006, SYMC gained 6% in after hours when the company topped Q1 estimates. The shares moved higher the next day, closing the regular session up 9.1%.

On May 9, 2006, the issue gained 3.2% in night trading after beating with Q4 results. Guidance proved less inspiring. The stock trimmed its gain to 2% the next day.

On Jan. 31, 2006, shares fell 4.8% in night trading after the company missed with sales and guided for sales in the coming quarter below the Street's view. Shares fell a deeper 6.8% the next day.

On Nov. 1, 2005, SYMC declined 9.5% in after-hours trading after the company reported in-line Q2 revenue, better than expected EPS and full year guidance just shy of estimates. It tumbled even lower on Nov. 2, losing 19.2% between the bells.

On July 28, 2005, SYMC slid 5.8% in after-hours trading after the company beat on EPS but missed on revenue. Sellers pressured the stock even further on July 29, sending SYMC down 7.7% by the closing bell.

On May 4, 2005 SYMC shed 1.2% after the company beat expectations and guided its earnings ahead of the Street view. It continued its downside run on May 5, losing 2.4%.

On Jan. 19, 2005 SYMC lost 1.6% in after-hours trading after the company beat expectations and raised guidance. It was hit by a heftier round of selling on Jan. 20, losing 3.5% by the bell-to-bell close.

The stock advanced 3.6% the night of Oct. 20, 2004 after the company bested the Street view and guided higher. It saw more aggressive next-day gains, charging 10.5% higher by the Oct. 21 closing bell.

Following a July 21, 2004 after-hours rise of 1.2% on better-than-expected results and outlook, SYMC lost its upside the next day and ended regular session play down 0.3%.

The stock rose 1.1% the night of April 28, 2004 on strong results and outlook, but could only muster a 0.2% rise by the April 29 regular session close.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Source: Longs Wary of Symantec's Earnings-Driven After-Hours Trade, Shorts Get Better Look

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