It seems as though the fallen angel of the mobile world is taking flight once again. Yup, I’m talking about the one and only Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK). Not only is this company “connecting people” to its latest line of stylish Lumia smartphones, but it's also hinting at a probable turnaround, which has been elusive for a long time. So is Nokia really going to rise from the ashes? Let’s take a closer Foolish look.
Quoting directly from the press release by the company:
“Nokia currently estimates that Devices & Services non-IFRS operating margin for the fourth quarter 2012 was between break even and positive 2 percent… Devices & Services non-IFRS operating margin includes a positive impact from non-recurring IPR income of approximately EUR 50 million.”
This means that Nokia’s so-called profitability was aided by a one-time income of €50 million. Not very encouraging.
The company also estimated fourth quarter net sales in its Devices & Services division at approximately €3.9 billion, with total device volumes of about 86.3 million units. Mobile phones sales were worth €2.5 billion, with Nokia’s low priced Asha clocking volumes of 9.3 million units.
While these numbers might be great, I don’t think this segment will be very relevant to Nokia’s success because it largely relates to obsolete non-smartphone devices that are fast being replaced by really cheap ones running Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Android operating system.
Coming to the real deal, Smart Devices saw net sales of about €1.2 billion, with 6.6 million units sold, of which 4.4 million were Nokia’s Lumia smartphones.
Now while this might be a nice start, I still don’t think these sales figures are very impressive. Last year, Nokia had to drastically slash the prices of its older Lumia devices to shore up sales volumes. So a large chunk of this figure might have been stimulated out of the sheer brute force of massive price cuts.
Another thing I am particularly concerned about is Nokia’s ability to stay afloat, especially due to the low cash reserves the company last showed on its third quarter balance sheet. Nokia’s net cash position at the time stood at about €3.6 billion (or $4.8 billion), which essentially translated into being able to survive for less than a year.
The company was on a desperate run for cash; it even resorted to selling some of its intellectual property, and more notably, it sold its Helsinki-based headquarters for €170 billion.
But all’s not lost. I feel that Nokia can accelerate from here. It just needs to stay aggressive and deliver great products that wireless carriers would be more than willing to subsidize.
Citigroup analyst Glen Yeung recently made a prediction that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s market share (which stood at 14.9% in the third quarter of 2012) is set to decline as the company cuts back on production of the iPhone 5 due to slackening demand. This might be terrible for Apple, but it is potentially great news for Nokia, as this could give it the opportunity to aggressively expand market share.