Motorola Lost $285 Million In 2011 Selling Phones

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Having already warned investors that its fourth quarter was going to be rough, Motorola (NYSE: MMI) didn’t disappoint when the actual numbers arrived Thursday. Smartphone shipments were up slightly but the company continues to lose money on mobile sales while everyone waits for a ruling on the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) deal.

Revenue was in line with the lowered guidance Motorola provided in December of $3.4 billion. Excluding special items, earnings per share were $0.20, far greater than expectations of $0.06, but using the GAAP standard Motorola recorded a net loss of $80 million compared to a net income of $80 million in last year’s fourth quarter.

Smartphone shipments came in at 5.3 million units, up from 4.9 million units a year ago, while tablet shipments remained anemic at just 200,000 units. For the full year Motorola shipped 18.7 million smartphones and 1 million tablets, it said.

But Motorola’s mobile division had a scary year: the group recorded an operating loss of $285 million for the full year, and an operating loss of $70 million in the fourth quarter. Motorola didn’t make any money selling phones last year, either, losing $70 million for the full year.

Those totals include sales of regular old feature phones, still a big part of Motorola’s overall business. The company sold 10.5 million mobile devices in the fourth quarter and 42.4 million devices for the year.

Motorola is still waiting to hear if regulators will approve Google’s bid to purchase the company for $12.5 billion, and as a result it no longer holds the customary conference call following the release of an earnings report.

(Updated 4:46 p.m. ET: I changed the original headline and a couple of references in the text to make it clear that Motorola’s losses were across all of its mobile devices, not just smartphones.)

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