Nokia Rises on Prospects From Trade-Show Reentry: Helsinki Mover

Nokia Oyj rose to a four-week high as the handset manufacturer prepared to return Feb. 27 to the Mobile World Congress, the first time the company is showing new products at the trade show in three years.

Nokia jumped as much as 7 percent to 4.39 euros, the highest intraday price since Jan. 23, and traded up 4.9 percent as of 4:18 p.m. in Helsinki. The stock has gained 14 percent this year, giving the manufacturer a market value of 16.1 billion euros ($21.6 billion).

The world’s largest mobile-phone maker is setting up its first booth at the Barcelona trade fair since 2009. Products on show include low-priced handsets using a version of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows software, which competes with Google Inc.’s Android technology, and a device with an ultra-high resolution camera, according to two people familiar with the plan. Nokia may also give details of its product strategy with Microsoft.

“If they announce Windows Phones that can compete with low-cost Android phones, that will be a big bonus because it would add a significant pool of users in markets that are still under-penetrated in terms of smartphones, where Nokia still stands a chance,” said Alexander Peterc, a London-based analyst with Exane BNP Paribas. “A price point under $100 would be fantastic, and under 100 euros ($135) would be good.”

Doug Dawson, a spokesman at Espoo, Finland-based Nokia, declined today to comment on possible product announcements at the congress.

Investors covering short positions probably contributed to the gain in Nokia’s stock price, said Helena Nordman-Knutson, an analyst at Pareto Oehman.

‘Short Squeeze’

“It’s a short squeeze and nobody wants to be left out if they come with some nice products,” Nordman-Knutson said in a telephone interview from Stockholm.

Nokia’s mention of “significant industry news” in a press conference invitation also refreshed persistent rumors that it could sell the smartphone unit to Microsoft, Exane’s Peterc said. He and Nordman-Knutson said they wouldn’t expect such an announcement at a trade show focused on products and industry alliances.

Nokia’s smartphone shipments fell 31 percent to 19.6 million units last quarter as the 10-year-old Symbian line declined faster than expected. Nokia sold 900,000 Windows Phones in the fourth quarter, accounting for one-third of all shipments on the platform and making it the biggest vendor of Windows Phones, Strategy Analytics said today in a report.

“Symbian is going to dwindle to a negligible quantity by sometime in the second half, so they need to ramp up Windows Phone very quickly,” Peterc said.

Windows Systems

At the same time, Nokia needs to promote near-term sales while managing expectations for Windows 8, Microsoft’s integrated system for smartphones, tablets and personal computers. Windows 8 and a complementary Windows Phone release are expected to come to market later in the year, Peterc said.

Nokia will “have to show us the road map” for cooperation with Microsoft, he said.

UBS AG said this week that Samsung Electronics Co.’s mobile lineup at the show is likely to be “limited,” and added Nokia to its list of most-preferred technology stocks. Apple Inc., the world’s largest smartphone maker, isn’t attending the congress.

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