Beleaguered Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) has been on a world-class roll. With its share price up nearly 22% the past week, and over 31% for the month, you could hear the collective sigh of relief from Nokia shareholders. What's been so nice about Nokia's run-up is there are several, legitimate, reasons for its stellar performance -- it's not just bargain hunters and short-term traders looking to make a quick buck.
Nokia's recent performance makes losing one of its longtime leaders a tough one to swallow. The head of imaging and photography, Damian Dinning, will leave his position effective Nov. 30. Though no specifics were offered, based on Dinning's recent tweet, he doesn't seem too upset. Nokia did issue a short statement, littered with the usual niceties, including, "During the past nine years, [Dinning] has made many innovative and valuable contributions to Nokia, most recently as a lead program manager in our Smart Devices business. We thank him for his service to the company and certainly wish him the best."
What's it mean to me?
The rumors are that Dinning is on his way to Jaguar Land Rover, but that does little to nothing for Nokia shareholders left wondering what's next. Dinning's nine years with Nokia included playing an integral role in the development of its Lumia smartphone, so clearly he was a key contributor to what is the driving force behind Nokia's new, strategic direction. It's safe to assume Dinning worked closely with Nokia partner Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) in developing the first Lumia with its Windows 7 OS, and was equally involved in the rollout of the Lumias causing all the hubbub (those running Windows 8).
But before we lament the loss of the Lumia tech-geek, let's keep it in perspective. The Lumia is on the market, and doing quite well, thank you very much. It will be up to two weeks before Amazon.com can deliver a Lumia, because of lack of inventory. And Nokia's telecom partner AT&T can only fulfill orders for white Lumias -- all the others have sold out. As for Europe, the news is every bit as good, and sales results for Lumias in Germany are especially strong.
On Nov. 26, Nokia announced it formed a partnership with high-flying Facebook. New versions of Nokia's successful Asha phones will include a Facebook button for instant access to users' FB accounts. Nokia is making friends in all the right places, and it's these kinds of synergies that will continue to positively impact Nokia, long after Dinning has turned in his Jag for another Land Rover.
Nokia needs to remain focused on the challenge at hand: Eating away at the market share of Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) iPhones, and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) with its Nexus phones, let alone all those running Google's Android OS. The gap between Apple, Google, and the rest of the industry is big, and getting bigger. But as Research In Motion's (NASDAQ: BBRY ) recent rise in stock price has demonstrated, there are a lot of smartphone consumers out there that won't simply gobble up the next version of an iSomething.
Like Nokia's Lumia, the upcoming BB10 has alternative smartphone buyers excited about the possibilities. Maybe the fuss surrounding Nokia, and even RIM for that matter, is simply wanting the best available smartphone on the market. Or, maybe there's a small but growing group of consumers hoping to bring an end to the lemming-like Apple and Google mania.
Anyway, Nokia is doing too many things right for the resignation of its imaging executive to merit a long-term, substantial decline in share price. Nokia's turning a corner, which is why it can say farewell to Dinning in the morning, and get on with the future by afternoon, and not miss a beat.
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