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Motorola posts 4Q loss ahead of Google takeover

Motorola Mobility's fourth-quarter loss was largely attributed to expenses related to its pending deal with Google. It shipped 5.3 million smartphones and 200,000 tablets in the period.

Motorola Mobility swung to a fourth-quarter loss thanks largely to expenses related to the pending takeover by Google.

The mobile devices and set-top box maker reported a loss of $80 million, or 27 cents a share, mirroring a year-earlier profit of $80 million, or 27 cents a share. Revenue rose slightly to $3.44 billion.

Excluding its merger-related costs, charges taken for the reorganization of its business, and stock and asset write-offs, the company earned 20 cents a share, still a sharp decline from a year ago. The company shipped 5.3 million smartphones and 200,000 tablets in the period.

Wall Street analysts had an average forecast of 6 cents a share in earnings and revenue of $3.4 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

The results underscore the struggles that many of the Android partners have faced. Beyond Samsung Electronics, which has virtually smothered the market with its Galaxy line of smartphones, the other handset vendors have struggled. Motorola is an awkward position as it continues to compete against other vendors even as it prepares to be absorbed into Google, responsible for the Android platform.

Google agreed to scoop up Motorola for $12.5 billion, largely to get at its warchest of patents. Motorola noted that the deal still needs to be approved by several regulatory agencies, but reiterated its goal of closing the transaction early this year.

Verizon and AT&T's results didn't bode well for the handset vendors. While the two carriers reported impressive smartphone activations, a majority of those came from the Apple iPhone, leaving little room for the likes of Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry to see any significant growth.

Motorola's mobile devices unit posted an operating loss of $70 million, while its revenue rose 5 percent to $2.5 billion. In total, Motorola shipped 10.5 million mobile devices. One of the stars of the period was the Droid Razr, an ultra-thin Android smartphone that was positioned by Verizon Wireless as its flagship product for the holiday season.

The 200,000 shipped tablets, however, remain a weak number, spotlighting a problem many vendors have had with their own iPad-competitors. Motorola's latest effort, the Xyboard, has been criticized as too pricey to compete with other tablets.

The company's home business, which deals with set-top boxes, saw a slight increase in operating earnings, which rose to $57 million, while revenue fell 11 percent to $897 million.