A Foolish Week of Telecom

South Korean phone maker Samsung is by far the commanding leader in global smartphone sales, according to research firm IDC. As the worldwide smartphone market grew by 42% in the second quarter of the year, Samsung’s share improved to 32.6% by selling 50.2 million smartphones. That far eclipses Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone sales of 26 million and 16.9% global share. This time last year, according to IDC, Apple was on top, with an 18.8% slice, compared to Samsung’s 17%.

Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) follows with a 6.6% share, HTC with 5.7%, and ZTE at 5.2%. That leaves 32.9% for the rest of the smartphone makers to divvy up.

Apple misses estimates and the market mourns
Investors took a step back from Apple this week as the company showed its highest third-quarter revenues to date, $35 billion worth. That worked out to profits of $9.32 a share on $8.8 billion. But that wasn’t enough for analysts, apparently. A Thompson Reuters survey had analysts expecting $10.36 EPS on $37.2 billion in revenue. The result: Apple shares dropped 5.5%.

Key to wireless profits? Lose subscribers, apparently
At least, that’s how prepaid mobile carrier MetroPCS managed to increase its bottom-line by 77%. A net loss of 186,000 subscribers in the second quarter -- a 180 degree turn from a year ago, when it added 132,000 -- lowered the company’s promotional equipment costs enough to give it a “Verizon-like 41.1% operating margin,” according to analyst Craig Moffett of Bernstein Research.

However, the carrier is prepping for -- what it hopes will be -- growth in its 4G LTE customers. It has been building out its LTE network, and plans to have up to seven new LTE smartphones ready by the end of the year.

Market cheers Nextel’s demise
Sprint Nextel
(NYSE: S  ) lost more money per share in the second quarter than analysts had expected; yet, they weren’t too unhappy about it. Actually, by the end of the day of the earnings release, Sprint’s stock price had jumped 20%.

The reason for that logical disconnect stems from the profit-lowering charges Sprint took in regards to the dismantling of its Nextel iDEN network. That Nextel platform has been a drain on Sprint ever since they merged in 2005. Now, Sprint and its watchers believe, the carrier can concentrate on building out its just-launched 4G LTE network as quickly as possible. Verizon and AT&T have a significant head start, and there’s not a moment to lose.

Motorola steamrolled in Mannheim
A court in the German city of Mannheim granted Microsoft the injunction it sought against Google’s Motorola unit for patent infringement. Products that use the infringed-upon patent include the Razr, Razr Maxx and Atrix smartphones. The presiding judge in the case said he was "convinced" of patent infringement.

However, the day before, in a separate patent case, this one in Munich, Microsoft came out the loser, when that court threw out its suit. Microsoft said it would appeal.

Spain’s pain may be gain for Bain
Telefonica
(NYSE: TEF  ) , the Spanish telecom encumbered with over $70 billion in debt, is close to a deal to sell off its Atento call center unit. The potential buyer is that now infamous private-equity firm embroiled in U.S. presidential-election controversy -- Bain Capital Partners. The reported sale price of $846 million, along with monies Telefonica hopes to get from selling off investments in its German and Latin American assets could help restore the company’s credit rating, which was recently downgraded by Standard & Poor’s.

Two from the rumor mill
First -- this one reported by the Financial Times -- Nokia is supposedly contemplating a change in its marketing strategy for the release of its newest smartphone, one that will run Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system. The new plan would have Nokia sharing its revenues with the carriers. Nokia hopes this would encourage those carriers to push its smartphones with a lot more oomph than they already do.

And second, Bloomberg is reporting that Facebook (Nasdaq: FB  ) and HTC are working together to create a Facebook branded smartphone in time for a mid-2013 launch. A Facebook statement said its "… strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social" and, reading between those lines, if Facebook advertising was embedded in its phone’s workings.

Should investors really be worried about Apple’s stock price tumble this week? Has the world’s most dominant tech company hit a serious snag? Learn as much as you can about this phenomenal company by reading the Fool’s invaluable special report on Apple. It’s yours just for the asking!

Fool contributor Dan Radovsky owns shares of Nokia and AT&T. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple and Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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