Nokia Oyj has found the easiest way to win the smartphone industry’s game of thrones is to quit playing altogether.
The CHART OF THE DAY shows Nokia’s shares have surged 97 percent since Sept. 2, the day before the Espoo, Finland-based company announced the sale of its mobile-phone business to Microsoft Corp. for $7.2 billion. The stock outperformed former mobile rivals Samsung Electronics Co., Apple Inc., BlackBerry Ltd. and HTC Corp. during the period.
Nokia, the biggest seller of smartphones as recently as 2011, exited the business after it turned into a loss maker and helped drag the stock down as much as 95 percent from its high in 2007. While the Finnish firm’s focus on network equipment led to better-than-estimated earnings in the second quarter, Samsung Electronics trailed analyst projections and HTC forecast a 12th consecutive quarter of declining sales.
“Nokia has done well by shedding its money-losing handset business, which improved the company’s cash cushion and financial position,” Brian Colello, a Chicago-based equity analyst at Morningstar Investment Services Inc., said on July 31. “The phone business isn’t a great one to be in unless the companies also own the software ecosystem around the phone, like Apple.”
The producer of iPhones is the only one of the three smartphone makers with shares that advanced since Sept. 2, rising 38 percent. Samsung lost 4.4 percent, while HTC slid 7.8 percent and BlackBerry Ltd. sank more than 8 percent. Motorola Solutions Inc., which comprises the non-handset businesses of former Motorola Inc., has climbed more than 13 percent.
Declining market share at Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, shows how growing competition in the industry is pressuring the biggest producers. The South Korean company’s share fell to 25.2 percent in the June quarter from 32.3 percent a year earlier, according to Strategy Analytics. Operating margins in its handset division will drop to 12.7 percent in the fourth quarter of this year from 21.6 percent in the first three months, Korea Investment Holdings Co. says.