Nokia (NOK) recently had a good run up in terms of its stock price from a lifetime low of just $1.6 to $3 levels. Those who bought into Nokia's ADR at this low point would have made a good deal of profits by now. But unfortunately, the price seems to be falling yet again.
It's rather saddening to witness the once mighty Nokia reduced to this condition. The fall from grace has been painful as well as tragic for many Nokia fans like me. Not to mention those who stayed invested till date.
Nokia missed out on the smartphone age by holding on to its old and redundant Symbian platform. And when it finally decided to let go, the damage had already been done. Nokia lost most of its smartphone market share to Apple (AAPL) and Samsung. But Nokia wasn't alone. The iconic BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion (RIMM) also failed to catch up with Apple's IOS and Google's (GOOG) Android based devices.
But Nokia hasn't been sitting pretty and doing absolutely nothing. The company has been cutting corners and eliminating redundant business units. Recently it sold about 500 of its patents to Vringo (VRNG) for a sum of $22 million. It has also been laying off many of its employees and has completed the sale of its Qt platform to a Finnish software maker Digia.
So what does the future hold for Nokia?
Well, the High-end smartphone business doesn't seem to be working for Nokia as well as it should have. But what's still working, is the demand for low-end mobile devices from emerging markets, such as South Africa, and India.
Research firm Gartner reveals that Nokia, with a market share of 19.9%, was second largest in terms of worldwide mobile shipments during the second quarter this year. To put this into perspective, Nokia's market share is slightly below electronic giant, Samsung's share of 21.6%.
So Nokia may be down in the smartphone space, but it's still not entirely out in terms of the overall mobile market.
Being a highly visible and trusted brand in emerging markets, Nokia should be able to win the favor of many consumers with newer smartphone launches in future. So as long as Nokia is able to keep its foothold in the low-end segment, the company will be able to buy more time until it's able to ramp up smartphone sales significantly.
Nokia will be introducing new Microsoft (MSFT) Windows 8 based smartphone devices in September. But if this doesn't happen sooner than Apple's launch of the iPhone 5, the company might lose its edge even further.
So should you take a chance with Nokia?
Well, the company still has quite a long way to go, before it can fully recover. The process will be painfully long, but would probably be worth the wait. Once all redundancies are removed, the result would be a leaner and more agile company, which would be able to focus its energies solely on the smartphone market more effectively.
Besides, over the past 20 years, Nokia has amassed a large portfolio of more than 30,000 valuable patents under its belt. Many analysts believe that these could be worth anywhere between 4 billion to 10 billion euros. After Apple's legal victory against Samsung, I'd say that these patents could be even more valuable. This not only gives Nokia enough ammunition to generate more patent royalties but also makes it a rather attractive acquisition target.
At these rock bottom levels, I'd say that Nokia looks like a great buy and a good long term play.