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Handspring&#039s 4Q loss smaller than expected

Handspring posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its first quarter as a publicly traded company, losing $5.8 million, or 13 cents a share, on sales of $51.8 million.

First Call Corp. consensus expected the handheld PC maker to lose 19 cents a share in the quarter.

Ahead of the earnings report, Handspring (Nasdaq: HAND) shares closed up 23/64 to 39 23/64.

The $51.8 million in sales marked a 51 percent improvement from its third quarter.

Company officials credited a strong entry into the U.S. retail market, new international distribution channels and strong demand for its Vison line of handheld PC for the upside surprise.

"We are pleased to report such outstanding results in our first quarter as a public company," said CEO Donna Dubinsky in a prepared release. "In addition to our ongoing direct Internet sales, our retail partners in the U.S., Europe and Japan all experienced excellent sell-through for our products."

For the fiscal year, Handspring posted a loss of $20.2 million, or 59 cents a share, on sales of $101.9 million.

Including amortization of deferred stock compensation, net loss for the quarter was $19.5 million, while net loss for the fiscal year was $60.3 million.

Handspring shares moved up to an all-time high of 48 earlier this quarter after a less-than-spectacular initial public offering in late June.

All three analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

First Call Corp. consensus expects Handspring to post a loss of 61 cents a share in fiscal 2001.