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Qualcomm&#039&#039s 3Q results in line with estimates

    Qualcomm posted a third-quarter profit of $218 million, or 27 cents a share, on sales of $714 million, in line with most analysts' estimates.

    First Call Corp. consensus predicted the mobile telephone technology firm would earn 27 cents a share in the quarter.

    Ahead of the earnings report, Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) shares closed off 2 1/8 to 63.

    The $714 million in sales represents an 11 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it made $155.7 million, or 22 cents a share, on sales of $645 million.

    "Our profitability continued to improve with an increase of 23 percent earnings per share over the third quarter of last fiscal year and a record $1 billion in pro forma earnings before taxes for the first nine months of fiscal 2000," CEO Irwin Jacobs in a prepared release. "Our technology licensing business signed numerous license agreements during the quarter and we're seeing momentum build in requests for both new license agreements and 3G extensions by existing licensees."

    Last quarter, Qualcomm checked in with a profit of $209 million, or 26 cents a share, on sales of $649 million.

    Its shares have fallen on hard times of late, plunging from a 52-week high of 200 in January to a below $60 a share earlier this quarter.

    Qualcomm, which makes chips based on the code division multiple access standard it developed, took some heat earlier this quarter on concerns the South Korean government might cut subsidies for cell phones.

    Increasing competition from the likes of Motorola (NYSE: MOT) and Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY) has forced some analysts to lower their estimates and rating on what was clearly last year's best-performing technology stock.

    Sixteen of the 20 analysts following the stock still rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

    First Call Corp. consensus expects Qualcomm to earn $1.05 a share in the fiscal year.