Before the Call: Nokia on the Line

Hear that ringing? It's Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) on the line, phoning in with some Q1 2007 earnings news, due out tomorrow. Investors busy dodging calls from rival Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) might be well-advised to take this one.

After the news comes out, we'll have time aplenty to dissect it. But in these few hours before we begin obsessing over Nokia's short-term progress, let's take a moment to review what investors think about it as a long-term investment. Our tool in this endeavor: Motley Fool CAPS, where we poll more than 27,000 investors for their views on more than 4,000 companies, Nokia among them. Here's what Fools have to say about the company.

Up or down?
More than 500 investors have submitted opinions on Nokia. The verdict: It's got style.

Only 86% of CAPS investors who've rated the stock think Nokia will outperform the market (a percentage I'm finding pretty common in my research). But when you drill down within that group to the opinions of our very best investors -- the CAPS All-Stars -- that optimism ratio shoots up to 94%. That's still only good enough to win the Finns three out of five possible stars, though.

Among major telecom equipment providers whose shares (or ADRs representing shares) trade in the U.S., Nokia sits relatively high:

Communication Equipment Makers

CAPS rating

Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC  )

****

Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM  )

***

Nokia

***

Motorola

**

JDS Uniphase (Nasdaq: JDSU  )

**

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU  )

*

Ciena (Nasdaq: CIEN  )

*

Wall Street vs. Main Street
CAPS All-Stars may love Nokia, but over on Wall Street, the natives are restless. While it's impressive to see 31 analysts rating Nokia a buy, the eight sell ratings tell us that professionals are considerably more pessimistic than the average investor.

Brass tacks
But why does Nokia win the hearts of CAPS players? Why does Wall Street fear it?

Bull pitch
Nokia bulls like the reputation for quality and high-tech wizardry that the company's products enjoy in the U.S. Like every investor and his brother, they also see enormous sales potential in India and China.

Bear pitch
Bears look at what's happened to Motorola over the last couple of quarters, and they tremble at the thought it will happen to Nokia, too. They fear that cell phones are becoming commoditized (in other words, interchangeable, with manufacturers unable to command premium prices), leading to heightened competition, narrowed margins, and stagnant profits.

Look who's talking
To learn the identities of the wise Fools who penned these thoughts, and explore the plethora of additional financial data we've put together on the company, just click here.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked 284th out of more than 27,000 raters. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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