Stock Watch: Antivirus Companies Feel the ‘Love’

Shares of companies that make antivirus software received a boost Thursday, as the “Love Bug” virus shut down e-mail systems worldwide.

Symantec rose 2 9/16 to 61 1/16, McAfee climbed 5 3/4 to 28, Check Point gained 13 3/16 to 188 5/8, and Trend Micro, Inc. rose 1/16 to 16 15/16.

McAfee’s Web site opens with a warning about the virus and an offer to download free software to guard against it.

The virus, carried as an attachment to an e-mail with the subject, “I love you,” began Thursday in Asia and quickly spread to Europe and North America, destroying computer files and causing problems at such companies as Microsoft Corp. and Ford Motor Co., as well as the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and Britain’s House of Commons.

Reports Friday morning said new forms of the virus, including one titled “Joke,” were circulating.

Experts said the virus — more accurately known as a worm — is worse than last year’s “Melissa,” because it actually corrupts files, most often those with pictures or audio.

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