Motorola’s Loss Grows on Weak Sales

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Motorola Inc (NYSE: MOT) said on Thursday its quarterly loss widened on cell phone sales that were at the low end of analyst expectations, signaling further market share losses to Nokia and other rivals.

Shares of the handset maker fell 4.2 percent in early trade after it missed Wall Street estimates on first quarter revenue and forecast a deeper-than-expected second quarter loss. Motorola plans to spin off its mobile devices businesses next year after more than a year of losses at the unit.

“We didn’t expect much and we didn’t get much,” said American Technology Research analyst Mark McKechnie.

While Motorola’s operating loss was slightly narrower than expected, McKechnie said that revenue for all three of Motorola’s business units — mobile devices, network equipment and enterprise mobility — fell short of his expectations.

Motorola, which has struggled to come up with a successful phone since launching the Razr in late 2004, posted a loss of $194 million, or 9 cents per share compared with a loss of $181 million, or 8 cents a share in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding a charge of 4 cents a share for job cuts and other items, Motorola’s loss amounted to 5 cents a share, a penny better than average analyst estimates, according to Reuters Estimates.

The world’s third biggest mobile phone maker said its net sales fell to $7.45 billion from $9.43 billion. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $7.85 billion.

The Schaumburg, Illinois-based company sold 27.4 million phones in the quarter compared with 45.4 million in the year-ago quarter. Five analysts polled by Reuters had phone sale estimates ranging from 25 million to 31.7 million.

By comparison, market leader Nokia sold 115.5 million phones in the quarter. Samsung Electronics (005930.KS: Quote, Profile, Research), which stole the No. 2 ranking from Motorola last year, has yet to report.

“They missed across the board with not a great performance from any division but given the macro environment, their core business did OK. I wasn’t expecting much out of handsets anyway,” McKechnie said.


Motorola recently ended a proxy fight with major shareholder Carl Icahn after it agreed to allow two of his proposed slate of directors onto the board, but still faces investor pressure to turn its businesses around.

It forecast a second-quarter loss from continuing operations of 2 cents to 4 cents per share, excluding any charges related to cost-cutting efforts. Analysts were expecting a loss of 1 cent per share.

Motorola’s mobile devices business saw its first-quarter operating loss widen to $418 million from $233 million in the year-ago quarter on revenue of $3.3 billion, which was down 39 percent from a year earlier.

Its home and networks segment, which sells set-top boxes as well as wireless network gear, posted a 2 percent rise in revenue to $2.4 billion compared with the year-ago quarter and below McKechnie’s estimate for $2.5 billion.

Motorola’s enterprise mobility unit, which sells to business clients such as retailers, rose 5 percent to $1.8 billion, less than McKechnie’s $1.9 billion estimate.

Motorola, which plans to spin off its mobile devices unit, has lost about 60 percent of its market value since its results first started to disappoint investors around mid-October 2006.

Motorola shares fell to $9.15 in pre-market trading from their close of $9.55 on Wednesday.

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