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Motorola chip biz narrows loss

But sales still below last year's level

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Motorola's soon to be spun off Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS) saw sales dip four per cent year on year during the group's third quarter.

SPS posted a $76 million operating loss, as a result. This time last year, it reported operating income totalling $13 million. Ignore the effect of one-off items and the Q3 2003 loss falls to $55 million - bad enough - while the year-ago quarter saw earnings of $12 million.

Sequentially, the Q3 results are an improvement. Last quarter, SPS lost $134 million on sales of $1.1 billion. Orders slipped 25 per cent to $1 billion.

The dip in sales was blamed on weak demand for wireless and networking products, thanks in part to budgetary restrictions in the telecoms arena.

However, SPS reported that orders were up eight per cent, to $1.4 billion.

Motorola as a whole reported Q3 sales of $6.8 billion - up five per cent on the same period last year, and up on last quarter's $6.2 billion - and net income of $116 million (five cents a share), up a similar percentage on last year's $111 million earnings, but down sequentially from $119 million.

Looking ahead, the company said it expects group sales of $7.5-7.8 billion, with earnings of eight to 12 cents a share - 11-15 cents a share, when special items are ignored. ®

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