Ups and Downs
By Carlo Longino, Thu Nov 11 23:00:00 GMT 2004

Symbian says it had a strong third quarter, while Siemens struggled. T-Mobile's doing well, while Telefonica Moviles is stuttering.

Symbian's licensees shipped 3.7 million devices running the operating system in the third quarter of the year, more than triple the number in the same period last year, and up from the second quarter's 2.59 million. The company's revenues were up more than 75% to GBP 16.7 million, though it didn't disclose profit/loss figures. Six handset vendors were shipping 29 Symbian-powered devices in the quarter, nearly three times as many as at the same point last year, with 38 more models in development, and the amount of third-party applications available almost doubled to more than 3,200. Symbian's got some momentum -- it's 12-month run rate, or the number of devices shipped in the last year, was 11.45 million devices, compared to 4.89 million at the end of September 2003.

Things aren't quite so rosy for one Symbian licensee, Siemens. The conglomerate as a whole saw its fiscal fourth-quarter profits fall about 10 percent to 654 million euros, though sales increased about 5 percent. The company blamed a software bug in its Series 65 line of mobile phones, where the battery dying during a call could cause an ear-splitting noise to be emitted, that forced a temporary halt in sales for spurring its mobile phone business to a loss of 141 million euros in the quarter, on slightly increased unit sales of 12.7 million. For the year, though, Siemens sold 51.1 million handsets, 31% more than in fiscal 2003.

T-Mobile's earnings drove success at its parent, Deutsche Telekom, with T-Mobile USA in particular again reporting a strong quarter. Across all its markets, T-Mobile's sales rose about 9% to 6.48 billion euros, generating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amorization up a quarter to 2.2 billion euros. It added 1.6 million customers in the quarter, with 900,000 of those in the US, where revenues were up 25 percent to EUR 2.5 billion and it reversed the loss in last year's third quarter of $39 million to earn $254 million this year. Interestingly, for the second quarter in a row, T-Mobile wrote up the value of its US spectrum licenses, a marked change from the writedowns seen in many carriers' earnings releases elsewhere around the world. The US unit is now the company's biggest in terms revenues.

Spanish carrier Telefonica, which also has extensive operations in Latin America, saw decreased third-quarter profits as the company tries to fend off its rivals and maintain the top spot in its home market and in Brazil. The company earned 467 million euros in the last quarter, short of analyst expectations and slightly below the same period last year. Sales were up 11 percent to 2.95 billion euros, with higher operating costs hitting margins.