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Google jumps on strong Q4 despite Motorola

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 2:58pm
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

Motorola Mobility showed up like a stain on Google’s otherwise strong fourth quarter, but investors shrugged off the handset maker’s losses. Shares of Google were up more than 6 percent, or $44, to $743 in early trading Wednesday.

Total gross consolidated revenues were up 36 percent annually and 8 percent sequentially to $14.4 billion. Google reported profits of just less than $2.9 billion, or $8.62 per share, during the fourth quarter, which was up from $2.7 billion, or $8.22 per share, in the same quarter of last year.

Total cash on hand at the end of 2012 was $48.1 billion.

While the company’s search business did well over the holiday quarter, the one rough patch was Google’s recently acquired mobile devices business. Google said revenues from Motorola Mobility were $1.5 billion, down from the $2.5 billion in the same quarter last year, and just under $1.8 billion sequentially.

Losses for the struggling smartphone OEM also widened. Motorola Mobility was down $353 million during the quarter, which compares to a $70 million loss in the same quarter a year ago.

During an earnings call, Google CFO and senior vice president Patrick Pichette said no one would be surprised if “results from this segment are a variable for quite a while as we restructure the business.”

“And remember, we inherited a 12 to 18 months product pipeline that we are still working through,” Pichette said.

Google CEO Larry Page said this is still the very early days of Motorola with respect to Google’s acquisition of the company, which was only approved by regulators back in May.

Motorola Mobility lost just less than a percentage point in U.S. market share from the second to third quarter. According to numbers from comScore, Motorola’s share dropped from 11.2 percent in the three-month period ending in August to 10.4 percent in the period ending in November.

Google acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.4 billion, admitting to an eye for Motorola’s extensive patent portfolio, which includes more than 17,000 patents. After losing out on an auction of Nortel's patents, Google had been searching for ways to protect Android from litigation.

Since the acquisition, Google has implemented a number of cost-saving measures at Motorola, cutting off 4,000 employees and closing about a third of Motorola’s 90 worldwide facilities.

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