Nokia Buys a Brain

Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) bad year got worse on Wednesday. That's when mobile connectivity firm Intellisync (Nasdaq: SYNC  ) announced that it would be purchased by Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) for $430 million in cash, or $5.25 per stub.

How's that so bad, you ask? It starts with a little background on RIM's bumpy year. After years of wrangling with privately held NTP over patent rights to its mobile push email technology, RIM apparently reach a deal in March. But then it dissolved, and NTP resumed its drive to enforce an injunction against the sale and use of RIM's signature BlackBerry device. Concerned by this potential outcome, Research In Motion sought to appeal but was turned away by both by a Federal district court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Still with me? Good. Now, fast-forward to Wednesday and the Intellisync deal. Nokia, which already has a stranglehold on the global market for sophisticated, feature-packed smartphones, can now claim even greater expertise in connecting its mobile devices to email and corporate data. And did I mention that Nokia has no dispute with NTP, nor does it appear at risk for one?

See where this is going? The timing of this deal isn't a coincidence, Fool. Instead, it looks like an all-out assault on RIM's core franchise while the BlackBerry maker is hobbled by problems elsewhere. Any other conclusion is just plain silly. After all, Intellisync won't add to Nokia's earnings or cash flow. The company finished its most recent fiscal year, concluded in July, with a $13.4 million loss. Net sales over the same period came in at just under $60 million. By contrast, Nokia booked nearly $40 billion in sales last year.

When you invest for the long haul, you're betting that management can shrewdly apply capital to grow sales and earnings. I haven't always noticed such savvy at Nokia, but that seems to be changing lately, especially in the company's competitive moves in the smartphone market. The Intellisync deal, though small, furthers my confidence in Nokia's strategic prowess. And that's really all anyone -- even a Foolish shareholder like me -- can ever ask.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers owns shares of Nokia. You can find out what else is in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.


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