Motorola earnings dip amid better outlook

Motorola's third-quarter earnings plummeted 94% but the mobile phone company still managed to impress Wall Street with its progress, improving from its dismal first-half performance and serving notice its turnaround effort may be taking hold, an Associated Press report said.

The world's third-largest handset maker slightly outpaced expectations and forecast a bigger step forward in the fourth quarter as a slew of new products start hitting the market, the Associated Press report added.

The report said a profit of $60 million and narrowed loss in the mobile phone unit provided a modest endorsement of Motorola's steps toward recovery and could buy more time for embattled CEO Ed Zander.

Investors agreed, pushing up Motorola shares 4%, to $19.30 Thursday. The stock remains down in 2007 and more than 25% off its price of a little over a year ago when it reached a six-year high of $26.30 in October 2006, the report said.

Sales fell to $8.81 billion, down 17 % from $10.6 billion a year earlier but up a percentage point from the second quarter, the report said.

The report further said Motorola's mobile phone unit, its biggest, saw sales tumble 36% to $4.5 billion and recorded an operating loss of $138 million. That was nearly $1 billion worse than a year ago but only about half the $264 million loss of the second quarter.