Investors who are following the communication equipment manufacturers could not have gone about their business without acknowledging the impact Nokia (NYSE:NOK) once had on the industry. A few years back, Nokia was the stock to own. A lot has happened since then.
Basically and most importantly, NOK just missed the shift over to smartphones and failed in producing appealing and attractive models that could keep consumers. In contrast to Nokia, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), for instance, is really successful with creating spill-over effects: Once you have an iPod you want an iPhone and then an iPad. Creating this kind of attraction for a range of computer products is very unique and AAPL is truly the master of it.
Part of the problem investors have with Nokia is the comparison to AAPL. Apple operates very successfully and raises expectations not only for itself but also for competitors who are said to be light years behind in the development of appealing phones that are transformed to become lifestyle products. Investors certainly feel that way: Nokia's shares are as punished and neglected as those of Research in Motion (RIMM) and Alcatel (NYSE:ALU) -about both I have written extensively in the past. Nokia's snapshot looks nasty:
Investors obviously extrapolate lost market share and declining margins into the future, which, in my opinion, is clearly a mistake. In fact, on average, I have been way more correct in positioning myself with companies that are said to have lost their touch.
A negative in the short-term is the break of the lower trend canal which should have supported the stock, at least on a temporary basis. The EPS estimates going forward are negative, rendering the P/E ratio meaningless. In addition, all margins are negative and the company posts huge losses. So why buy Nokia at all?
I want to note first off that I own Nokia shares. I initiated a contrarian position because I believe the punishment is overdone. Chartists might agree with me that the stock needs to close its gap at $4 first, even though this is not the primary reason for me to purchase the stock.
I am betting on a scenario in which Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Nokia are pulling it off in cooperation: With NOK providing the hardware for the Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft the software. This will give NOK a strong lift into the smartphone market, increasing sales and earnings to new highs as Nokia profits from a consumers' Windows endorsement. Now, this is surely a risky play as nothing guarantees a partnership between Microsoft and Nokia just yet. But I judge there to be reasonable chances that Microsoft will prove to revive Nokia. At the current share prices, there is not much investors can do wrong.