Updated from 4:18 p.m.Motorola ( MOT) posted strong third-quarter earnings, citing gains in the cutthroat handset market, and guided toward an in-line fourth quarter. For the quarter ended Oct. 1, the Schaumburg, Ill., wireless giant made $1.75 billion, or 69 cents a share, from continuing operations. That figure includes a net benefit of 39 cents a share from investment gains, tax benefits and reorganization and debt-retirement costs. A year ago, Motorola made $426 million, or 18 cents a share. Revenue surged 26% from a year ago to $9.42 billion. The numbers stormed past Wall Street's expectations. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had forecast third-quarter earnings of 28 cents a share on revenue of $9.1 billion. Mobile device sales rose 41% from a year ago to $5.6 billion, as the company sold 38.7 million handsets during the quarter. Motorola said that number is 66% above the year-ago comparison and sets a company record. The company said its market share rose in the latest quarter, and its average selling price held steady at around $140. Motorola chief Ed Zander, who indicated on a postclose conference call that he has "changed my colors" to root for the Chicago White Sox, says the company gained a percentage point of handset market share in the latest quarter, to 19%. Last year, Zander identified himself as a fan of the Boston Red Sox, who last October broke an 86-year drought by winning the World Series. Motorola's fortunes have clearly been lifted by the thin metal Razr phone, with 6.5 million units shipped in the third quarter and 12 million to date. Motorola will introduce a code division multiple access Razr, presumably for Verizon Wireless and Sprint, this quarter. The CDMA Razr is available in Korea, where it is now the most popular phone, says Zander.
Even though AT&T tried a last-minute bribe of promising 5,000 new U.S. jobs to help gain support for the deal, the Justice Department filed a complaint to fight the combination of the nation's No. 2 and No. 4 wireless carriers.