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Palm: revenues up, expectations down

'Deeply disappointing'

Despite a surge in sales, Palm CFO Doug Jeffries predicts that the smartphone maker's immediate future won't be a happy one.

These revelations came today in a conference call with analysts and reporters as Palm announced its third-quarter results for fiscal year 2010. Wall Street immediately spanked the company's stock in after-hours trading, driving it down over 12 per cent.

Compared with the same quarter one year ago, Palm's balance sheet looks almost rosy. At that time, the company endured a $95m net loss on revenues of a mere $90m. This year, net losses totalled just $18.5m on $349.9m in revenues. Revenues, in fact, beat both analysts' expectations and Palm's own projections.

But losses are, after all, losses. CEO Jon Rubinstein candidly told those listening in on the call that issues with his company have been "deeply disappointing to me".

Jeffries had the unenviable task of announcing that next quarter should be a rocky one, with revenues projected to be $150m or less. According to the Wall Street Journal (paid subscription), analysts were expecting fourth-quarter revenues to edge a bit over $300m.

When asked about the roiling speculation that Palm might be a takeover target, Rubenstein dodged the question, giving only the time-honored and prudent comment that the company would entertain any ""reasonable offer".

Palm is in a tough position. Its webOS operating system - especially in its latest incarnation - is attractive and well-featured. The company's Prē and Pixi smartphones, however, have failed to gain traction against the juggernaut that is the Apple iPhone and the steadily increasing competition from phones based on Google's Android OS.

If you're interested in some solid smartphone intellectual property, now might be a good time to give Rubenstein a call. Or, perhaps, you might choose to wait until after what's shaping up to be a challenging fourth fiscal quarter for Palm. ®

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