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STMicro posts third-quarter loss as Asian demand sputters

By Leila Abboud

(Reuters) - STMicroelectronics NV posted a quarterly net loss after demand weakened from Asian smartphone and electronics makers, as Europe's largest maker of semiconductors grappled with strong competition in the mobile market.

The company, whose chips are used in cars, computers and mobile phones, reported quarterly net revenue of $2.01 billion, down from $2.17 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Ahead of the results, Bernstein and JP Morgan analysts said STMicro could also be affected by the decline of smartphone maker Blackberry, for which it produced chips for camera modules. That may, in turn, weigh on current-quarter results.

The company said current-quarter revenue would be unchanged from the prior three months, plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

"Blackberry might have canceled many models and STMicro supplied them with camera modules but also possibly other components such as MEMS" or motion sensors, JP Morgan analysts wrote in a note.

Although STMicroelectronics exited its joint venture in mobile chips with Sweden's Ericsson in March, it still earns about a quarter of its revenue from chips for mobile gadgets.

It also lost a key contract for chips in Apple Inc's latest top-of-the-line iPhone 5S to Bosch, but the impact from that isn't likely to appear until the next few quarters, JP Morgan added.

ST Micro, which competes with Texas Instruments Inc , Qualcomm Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd <005930.KS> in chips, had a third-quarter net loss of $142 million, compared with a net loss of $478 million in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts on average had expected third-quarter revenue of $2.045 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"We saw overall year-over-year revenue improvement of 3.9 percent across our business outside of the Wireless product line," ST President and Chief Executive Carlo Bozotti said in a statement.

"On the other hand, this growth was milder than expected due to a muted order pattern during the quarter, driven by softness in high-end smartphones in Asia and the mass market in Asia, including the cable set-top box market in certain countries."

Bozotti, however, pointed out that automotive demand remained a bright spot for the company.

The stock price of STMicro has risen about 21 percent this year to close at 6.372 euros on Tuesday before earnings were published, giving it a market capitalization of about 5.93 billion euros ($8.17 billion).

($1 = 0.7260 euros)

(Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Andre Grenon and Richard Chang)

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