Motorola Mobility sees first quarter loss ahead amid Verizon iPhone, Bionic arrival

Motorola Mobility made its earnings debut with solid fourth quarter results, but projected a loss for the first quarter.

Motorola Mobility made its earnings debut with solid fourth quarter results, but projected a loss for the first quarter.

The company, the wireless device half of what used to be Motorola, reported fourth quarter earnings of $80 million, or 27 cents a share, on revenue of $3.4 billion, up 21 percent from a year ago. Non-GAAP earnings were $108 million, or 37 cents a share.

For 2010, Motorola Mobility reported a loss of 29 cents a share on revenue of $11.5 billion. That tally is much better than 2009's loss of $4.56 a share.

While those results are solid, Motorola Mobility projected a first quarter loss of $26 million to $62 million, or 9 cents a share to 21 cents a share. Operating results will be roughly break even, which was in line with estimates.

The loss isn't that much of a surprise given Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha has alluded to a rocky first quarter. The company is launching its 4G devices---such as the Bionic---late in the first quarter at Verizon Wireless. In addition, Motorola Mobility's Droid devices will battle for shelf space as Verizon rolls out the iPhone. In a statement, Jha said "we are well positioned to grow, and further improve our financial results in 2011."

By the numbers:

  • Mobile device revenue in the fourth quarter was $2.4 billion, up 33 percent from a year ago. Operating earnings were $72 million for the mobile device business.
  • The company shipped 4.9 million smartphones for the fourth quarter and 13.7 million for 2010.
  • Total handset shipments were 11.3 million for the fourth quarter and 37.3 million in 2010.
  • Home revenue, which includes cable set-top boxes, was $1 billion, up 1 percent from a year ago. Operating earnings were $54 million in the fourth quarter.

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