Is Motorola's Future Rosy?

Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) may have reported a great quarter, but should investors be worried about the future? As Motorola shares dipped today, it seems that maybe it's the glance into the crystal ball that's got investors nervous.

The company reported fourth-quarter profit increasing 34% to $684 million, or $0.27 per share. Sales increased 27% to $8.84 billion.

Earnings for the year increased 137% to $2.2 billion, or $0.91 per share, with sales up 35% to $31.3 billion. The company paid down $2.7 billion in debt and ended the year with $5.4 billion in cash.

In more good news, Motorola managed to leap back over Samsung, which had made headlines when it swiped Motorola's No. 2 slot in cell-phone sales recently.

However, the bone of contention with investors was Motorola's first-quarter prediction -- still in line with previous estimates. That's got investors supposedly frothing at the mouth about slowdowns in sales and competitive pressures. There's also concern about one of its customers, Nextel (Nasdaq: NXTL  ) , which is slated to be acquired by Sprint (NYSE: FON  ) .

Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) continues to be a high-profile and formidable rival, of course, and after its troubles last summer, it certainly has been gearing up to make up for lost time. However, Motorola has definitely been making innovation a priority. Its tiny, thin Razr phone is apparently a hit, and it plans a phone with music maven Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , which certainly should hit on what consumers are looking for in an integrated communications and entertainment device.

Today's cold feet about Motorola seem to me to be a bit premature, with an air of "getting out while the going's good" in today's actions. Indeed, competitive concerns do pose a strong challenge for Motorola, and it will face difficult comparisons as it dukes it out with rivals. Then again, Motorola showed us a strong hand in the fourth quarter. Long-term investors might want to think twice before jumping on the selling bandwagon.

Talk to Fools about Motorola's future on our Motorola discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.


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