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Motorola Looks to Shed Auto Arm

The resurgent wireless company's mobility focus threatens to crowd out its heritage.

Motorola (MOT) is apparently looking to shed its old core business and get on with its wireless transformation.

The Schaumburg, Ill., tech titan has hired JP Morgan Chase to shop its automotive electronics unit around, according to

The Wall Street Journal

. Though Motorola's origins trace back to the early car radio business, the company has rallied this year around a mobility theme, particularly cell phone sales.

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It's a good move, say industry observers who tend to regard Motorola's auto business as part of the "old-time soul" of the company, but "incongruous" with the current strategy.

"It makes sense, and it's a perfect business for a private equity group to own," says one Wall Street analyst who rates Motorola a buy.

Difficulties at the big U.S. automakers have made it tough on car part suppliers this year. But Motorola managed to cut costs and swing the auto business into the black last quarter. The buff-up job obviously helps the prospects for a sale of the unit.

Motorola shares rose 4 cents to $23.91 in early trading Thursday.