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Motorola looking good in Q3

Motorola slightly beat analysts' expectations in third quarter and posted a 13 percent revenue jump, fueled in part by its semiconductor business.

Motorola (MOT) today Motorola to focus on core business slightly beat analysts' expectations in third quarter and posted a 13 percent revenue jump, fueled in part by its semiconductor business.

Motorola ended a quarter in which it exited the Mac clone business and took a $95 million charge with net profits of $266 million, or 44 cents a share, compared with $206 million, or 34 cents, a year ago.

But excluding the charge for stepping out of cloning, Motorola would have posted earnings of $328 million, or 54 cents.

Wall Street was expecting the company to post earnings of 53 cents a share, Motorola at a glance according to First Call.

Revenues for the quarter reached $7.4 billion, up from $6.5 billion a year ago.

Motorola, which has been divesting itself of underperforming businesses and concentrating on its core technologies, today said it has hired an investment banker to explore selling its modem business, or transmission products division, along with the division's state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama.

The company said these divestitures will continue throughout the year and may result in additional pre-tax charges of up to $100 million against fourth-quarter earnings.

"We are continuing the process, which we initiated at the end of 1996, of reviewing businesses and development programs that have not lived up to expectations," Motorola president and CEO Robert Growney said in a statement.

Motorola cited its semiconductor, land mobile, and cellular subscriber products as contributing to the growth.

Semiconductor sales grew 12 percent to $2.1 billion, while orders rose 35 percent. And this portion of the business posted an operating profit this quarter, compared with break-even figures a year ago.

Although the end markets of computers and peripherals, along with distribution and communications areas, showed the highest growth, consumer electronics and automotive orders for chips showed only modest growth.

Meanwhile, industrial orders and personal computing orders declined.

Motorola?s computer group posted a 20 percent increase in sales, but its orders were down 3 percent in the quarter from year-ago figures.

The computer group also posted a larger operating loss than a year ago because of a special charge that resulted from phasing out its Mac clone business.