Motorola's digital sales beat The Street

Edging out expectations, Motorola earnings for the fourth quarter, without factoring in special items, were up 223 per cent to $US514 million, or 82 cents per share, compared with earnings of $159 million, or 26 cents per share, for the fourth quarter one year ago.

The results beat the expectations of Wall Street analysts by one cent per share, according to a consensus estimate gathered by the First Call/Thomson Financial service.

With special items, earnings for the fourth quarter were $349 million, or 56 cents per share, according to a statement from Motorola.

Motorola announced on Monday fourth-quarter sales of $8.5 billion, up 2 per cent from the same period last year.

Motorola also announced its year-end results. For the full year 1999, sales were up 5 per cent to $30.9 billion, compared to $29.4 billion in 1998, the company said. Earnings for the year, excluding special items, were $1.3 billion, or $2.08 per share, compared with $347 million, or 58 cents per share, for the previous year, according to Motorola. Including special items, however, earnings were $817 million, or $1.31 per share, compared with a loss of $1 billion, or $1.61 per share, in 1998.

Motorola singled out the fourth-quarter performance of its digital wireless phone and semiconductor businesses as contributing heavily to the company's quarterly results. Sales of Motorola phones increased significantly in Asia, and were also higher in Europe and the Americas, according to the company's statement.

Most of the phones sold were digital -- fully 89 per cent of those sold in the fourth quarter, the company said. On the semiconductor side, sales for the fourth quarter rose 15 per cent to $1.8 billion, led by sales to the Americas and Europe. These results boosted the segment to an operating profit of $81 million, compared with an operating loss of $102 million for the same period a year ago, Motorola said.

The close of 1999 marked the end of a busy year for Motorola in partnerships, including an $11 billion stock-for-stock merger with General Instrument and a deal with Cisco Systems to invest a total of $5 billion over the next four to five years to develop and promote global wireless Internet architecture and products.

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