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Motorola sees small third-quarter profit

Net income is $12 million, or a penny per share, compared with a substantial loss for the year-ago period. Revenue, however, was down year over year.

Beleaguered handset maker Motorola on Thursday had some good news to offer investors, reporting a small profit for the third quarter.

For the three months ended October 3, Motorola reported net income of $12 million, or a penny per share, compared with a loss of $397 million (and a loss of 18 cents per share) for the year-ago period.

Revenue, however, was down year over year, coming in at $5.45 billion for the third quarter of 2009, versus $7.48 billion in the same quarter of 2008.

Analysts polled by Reuters had been forecasting, on average, a break-even quarter on revenue of $5.54 billion.

For the fourth quarter, Motorola is forecasting earnings from continuing operations of between 7 cents and 9 cents per share. Analysts have been expecting, on average, 6 cents per share.

The earnings report found a favorable response on Wall Street. In early trading Thursday, shares were up roughly 9 percent to around $8.68, following Wednesday's closing price of $7.96.

The company, now some years removed from its glory days with the Razr phone, is pinning its hopes on Google's Android software for mobile devices. In September, it unveiled its first Android device, the Cliq. On Tuesday, several weeks into the fourth quarter, Motorola and Verizon Wireless unveiled the Android-based Droid smartphone.

"We delivered on our commitment to improve the financial performance of Mobile Devices and to commercially launch two smartphones in time for the fourth- quarter holiday season," Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola and CEO of Mobile Devices, said in a statement. "The introductions of our new products powered by Android are important milestones as we begin to address the mobilization of the Internet and the growing demand for modern smartphones. Next year, we will continue to expand our smartphone portfolio and deliver improved financial results."

For the third quarter, sales for Motorola's Mobile Devices segment came in at $1.7 billion, down 46 percent from the year-ago quarter, but the company did compress its operating loss for that segment to $183 million, compared with a year-ago loss of $840 million.

Motorola says it shipped 13.6 million handsets during the third quarter, giving it just under 5 percent of the worldwide market share.

In its Home and Networks Mobility segment, Motorola saw third-quarter sales of $2.0 billion, down 15 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. Operating earnings were $199 million, down from $263 million a year earlier.

The company's Enterprise Mobility Solutions segment logged sales of $1.8 billion, down 13 percent from the year-ago quarter, while its operating earnings were $306 million, compared with $403 million in the year-ago quarter.

Also on Thursday, Motorola said that Edward J. Fitzpatrick, who has been serving as the company's acting chief financial officer since February, is now its permanent CFO.

This story was updated at 5:15 a.m. PDT with additional information from Motorola's Thursday statements, and again at 7:25 a.m. PDT with the stock market response.