Palm shares up after reported loss; upbeat about future with Pre, WebOS

Palm appeared to perform better in the fourth quarter than Wall Street expected and that seems to be good news for investors, especially considering that the results don't include the new Palm Pre, which didn't start shipping until after the close of the quarter. Shares of Palm skyrocketed on the news, up as much as 16 percent in after-hours trading.

Palm appeared to perform better in the fourth quarter than Wall Street expected and that seems to be good news for investors, especially considering that the results don't include the new Palm Pre, which didn't start shipping until after the close of the quarter. Shares of Palm skyrocketed on the news, up as much as 16 percent in after-hours trading.

The company reported a quarterly loss of $53.4 million, or 40 cents per share, on sales of $113.2 million, excluding one-time items. Wall Street had been expecting a loss of 62 cents on revenue of $80.64 million. For Fiscal year 2009, the company reported a loss of $241.1 million, or $2.08 per share., excluding items. (Statement)

For Palm, this quarterly results reflect a look back at a company that's undergoing major changes, including the appointment of new Chairman and CEO Jon Rubenstein, who joined the company after the close of the fourth quarter. As for the new Pre smartphone, the launch received quite a bit of attention, despite a pending release of Apple's new iPhone days later. And the reviews have been pretty favorable, as well, with many reviewers saying that the device could be a strong contender against the iPhone.

Also see: iPhone 3G S or Palm Pre? The decision-making process

Apple and AT&T sold more than 1 million iPhones, now in its third generation, during its opening weekend. By contrast, Palm reportedly sold 150,000 Pre smartphones, though the company didn't provide any specifics during a conference call with analysts today. Still, there's plenty of excitement around the Pre as a challenger.

On the call, Rubenstein called the Pre the "best product we've ever shipped" but that it was only the first device on the new mobile operating system. The company also noted that it was "extremely happy" with its launch with Sprint but, when asked about the exclusivity, said it was not speaking specifically about the length of that exclusive agreement.

In a statement, Rubenstein said:

The launch of Palm webOS and Palm Pre was a major milestone in Palm’s transformation; we have now officially reentered the race. We have more to accomplish, but the groundwork is laid for a very promising future here at Palm. Our senior management team is capable, motivated and focused on execution; there is a large group of developers waiting to build great applications for Palm webOS; and we have a new product pipeline that we think will set a standard for the industry.

The company did not provide guidance for the current quarter. Shares of Palm were up slightly in regular trading, closing at $14.02 but were on the upswing in after-hours trading.

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