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Motorola ekes out profit, but sales are off

Handset maker squeezes out a $143 million profit in the fourth quarter--after a $3.7 billion loss in the same period a year earlier.

Motorola ended 2009 on a mixed note, with a profit but drooping sales.

For the fourth quarter, the mobile phone maker turned a profit of $143 million, compared with a loss of $3.7 billion in the same quarter of 2008. The 2008 quarterly loss was largely attributed to nonrecurring charges that Motorola was forced to take.

Sales for the fourth quarter were a disappointment, though, falling 20 percent to $5.7 billion, versus $7.1 billion from the year-ago quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast revenue of $5.9 billion.

For the full year, Motorola lost $51 million, compared with a loss of $4.1 billion in 2008. Sales for all of 2009 fell to $22 billion from $30 billion the previous year.

Fourth-quarter profits were boosted by hefty cost cuts and robust smartphone sales. Of the 12 million handsets shipped in the quarter, 2 million were smartphones.

The quarter marked the debut of Motorola's new Android OS-based Droid handset, which has been a hot seller since its launch in November, though Motorola didn't reveal sales figures.

"Our first Android smartphone devices have been very well received," Sanjay Jha, Motorola co-chief executive officer, said in a statement. "We look forward to broadening our handset portfolio in 2010 with the launch of at least 20 smartphone devices around the world and continued evolution of our Motoblur service."

Despite healthy smartphone shipments, Motorola's Mobile Devices segment saw its overall sales drop 22 percent to $1.8 billion. Jha said the company plans to cut costs and aggressively build on its current momentum to turn around the mobile operations. Motorola's Enterprise and Home & Networks divisions also saw a decline in fourth-quarter sales.

For the first quarter of 2010, the company plans to launch four new Android smartphones, bringing the total number to six. But it's projecting a loss for the quarter of 1 to 3 cents per share. The news sent Motorola's stock down a few percentage points in pre-market trading Thursday.

Motorola fourth quarter and full 2009 results
Motorola fourth quarter and full 2009 results Motorola