Earnings In Brief: AT&T, Nokia, Motorola All Smile (A Bit)

All made gains, some more modest than others. Here's a look at how AT&T, Motorola and Nokia fared:


AT&T's wireless business is growing; the carrier posted a 25.6 percent increase in its fourth-quarter earnings, reported Thursday.

AT&T reported $3.09 billion in earnings, or 51 cents per share, up from $2.4 billion in earnings, or 41 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue dropped but hardly catastrophically, down 0.7 percent to $30.86 billion. The numbers for AT&T were in line with analyst expectations, with most expecting $30.87 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters.

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Apple's iPhone remains a jewel for AT&T, which said it added 2.7 million new wireless customers during the fourth quarter. That total allowed AT&T to top Verizon in subscription growth; Verizon added 2.2 million customers but saw hefty losses due to restructuring charges.

That AT&T has also been picked as the carrier for Apple's new iPad should help its continued subscriber growth, but it may further strain AT&T's service -- a regular complaint among AT&T subscribers.


Is it happy days yet at Motorola? Probably too soon to tell, but the company's fourth-quarter financials, reported Thursday morning, showed a profit and some progress -- especially on the back of Motorola's much-hyped Droid smartphone.

Motorola's fourth-quarter profit was $142 million, or 6 cents a share. That's a turnaround from last year's fourth quarter, which saw Motorola post a loss of $3.66 billion, or $1.61 a share. Revenue was still down, however, to $5.72 billion, which represents a 20 percent drop from Motorola's revenue in the prior fourth quarter. Both earnings and revenue were lower than an average of analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters, which had predicted revenue of $5.94 billion and earnings of 8 cents per share.

Motorola said it shipped 2 million Android-powered devices during the quarter but did not indicate how many of those were Droids. The Droid, carried by Verizon in the U.S., was the showpiece of Motorola's fall lineup, but Motorola swore allegiance to Google's Android platform early last year and has since developed a number of Android-based handsets like the Droid and the Motorola Blur.

Motorola's wireless segment did take a hit, with sales declining 22 percent to $1.8 billion. According to most estimates, Motorola's wireless market share continues to shrink, down to 3.7 percent from the 4.7 percent it held in its third quarter.

Motorola's challenge will be to keep its head above water as it looks to break up the company -- it plans to spin off its handset unit -- and keep pace with the super-competitive smartphone market. It's too early to tell whether the Droid's buzz has truly subsided. But thanks to the advent of Google's Nexus One it's no longer the Android smartphone vacuuming up headlines.


For the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2009, Nokia posted a 65 percent increase in earnings and said its operating margin was 12 percent to 14 percent -- a number that made more than a few Wall Street observers turn their heads. Nokia said handset volume was flat but that it sees that number going up 10 percent this year.

According to Nokia, it sold 127 million handsets in the quarter, which keeps it in the No. 1 spot for cellphone manufacturers worldwide. Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo attributed the growth to successful smartphone launches, some of which were among Everything Channel's 10 Coolest Smartphones of 2009.

The North American market remains Nokia's white whale; despite the Finnish vendor's dominant presence worldwide, it doesn't compete effectively against the likes of Apple and Research In Motion, both of which have chewed into its market share consistently over the past few quarters.

Check out Nokia's balance sheet here.