Updated: Smartphone Growth Helps Motorola Earnings, Xoom Shipments Plummet


Smartphone shipments were up during Motorola’s third quarter but already anemic tablet shipments fell off a cliff as the Xoom appears destined for history’s dustbin. The company still surpassed earnings expectations as it awaits word on whether or not it will be allowed to join forces with Google.

Motorola recorded $3.3 billion in revenue during the last quarter, an 11 percent improvement compared to the same period last year. The company is still losing money on a strict accounting basis, but excluding special items it earned $35 million, roughly equivalent to its earnings last year. Analysts were expecting just a tad more revenue at $3.37 billion but just 6 cents in earnings per share, compared to the 12 cents recorded by the company during the third quarter.

Smartphone shipments were 4.8 million units during the quarter, a period during which Motorola launched the Droid Bionic, one of its best Android smartphone efforts to date. Smartphone shipments were up 26 percent.

But Motorola’s first foray in the Android tablet market remains a disaster. The company only shipped 100,000 tablets during the quarter, compared to 440,000 tablets shipped during the last quarter. And once again, Motorola declined to elaborate on how many of those shipments were actually purchased by real people.

And just like in the last quarter, Motorola is losing money on smartphones in general. Its Mobile Devices division enjoyed a 20 percent jump in revenue, but actually increased its loss compared to last year. And Motorola couldn’t even muster an operating profit out of the division, let alone a net profit.(Motorola’s Home Division makes up the difference in overall profits.)

That is not good. Will Google (NSDQ: GOOG) be able to change that equation if it is allowed to acquire Motorola? (NYSE: MMI) Perhaps in anticipation of such difficult questions, Motorola announced that it was not planning to hold the customary conference call with financial analysts that virtually all companies conduct following the release of an earnings report.

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