Deutsche Bank’s Todd Rakar has become “incrementally cautious on the infrastructure software group,” which has suffered more modest losses in recent months than other parts of the technology spectrum. He notes that 2008 growth expectations for the group “have yet to see meaningful downward revisions.”

Rakar says recent checks “suggest a slowdown in IT spend.” He says companies with exposure to large deals, like VMware (NYSE:VMW), CA (NASDAQ:CA) and Citrix (NASDAQ:CTXS) “are most at risk.”

Rakar notes that security stocks in particular have outperformed other segments of the software sector in recent months. But he says “overall IT security spending trends for Q1 appear to have declined significantly from the end of 2007.” Rakar writes that the firm’s latest quarterly survey of resellers and partners found the most cautious commentary from the channel in the last five years.

Rakar today cut estimates on five companies:

  • McAfee (MFE): 2008 EPS to $1.86, from $1.90.
  • Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC): Calendar 2008 EPS to $1.36, from $1.38.
  • Check Point (NASDAQ:CHKP): 2008 EPS to $1.67, from $1.75.
  • Citrix (CTX): 2008 EPS to $1.60, from $1.64.
  • VMware: 2008 EPS to $1.08 from $1.11.

Rakar also cut his rating on Secure Computing (SCUR) to Sell from Hold, based on weak security spending data points as well as patent litigation issues and a premium valuation.

In today’s trading:

  • McAfee is down 5 cents, to $32.86.
  • Symantec is down 24 cents, or 1.4%, to $16.58.
  • Check Point is down 33 cents, or 1.5%, to $22.29.
  • Citrix is down $1.01, or 3.3%, to $29.55.
  • CA is down 4 cents at $22.49
  • Secure Computing is down 54 cents, or 7.7%, at $6.48.
  • VMware is down $1.67, or 3.8%, to $42.86.