Nokia To Give Billions Back to Shareholders as Sales Dip

Telecom networks company Nokia saw its shares rise on Thursday after it raised its outlook for the year and said it would distribute 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) to shareholders, despite a drop in third quarter earnings.

Revenue in the period was down 2 percent from a year earlier at 3.03 billion euros ($3.34 billion) due to lower demand in North America and Europe. Net profit fell 20 percent to 152 million euros ($168 million), partly due to shifts in currency values, as well as higher interest and tax expenses.

But operating margins beat market expectations and the company's share price shot up 9 percent to 6.64 euros in early trading in Helsinki.

CEO Rajeev Suri [pictured] said that although he was not pleased with overall sales, the profitability of the networks sector -- which accounts for 95 percent of revenue -- allowed Nokia to raise its full-year forecast. Operating margins are expected near the upper end of 8-11 percent, whereas previously it predicted them around the midpoint of that range.

"Our strong profitability is testament to the strength of our operating model. We said earlier in the year that we would redouble our efforts to ensure our cost structure was aligned to market conditions, and the success of those efforts is very clear in our results," he said.

Sami Sarkamies, senior analyst at Nordea Bank said the result was "excellent, with a positive surprise" from the networks unit.

"Sales were as expected and the margins were clearly higher than expected, allowing the company to improve profitability expectations for the year," Sarkamies said.

Lower sales in North America and Europe were partly offset by a 27 percent increase in sales in greater China, both in broadband and global services.

In anticipation of next month's shareholder meeting, which is expected to approve the 15.6 billion euro acquisition of ailing...

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