While Steve Jobs overloaded his Reality Distortion Field to introduce the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPad tablet yesterday, there was far more substantial news brewing in Finland.
While you were sleeping this morning, Inside Value pick Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) reported a fourth quarter strong enough to send after-hours traders into a feeding frenzy; Nokia's shares jumped 10% overnight, while Apple drifted ever-so-slowly downward.
Why do I keep dragging poor Apple into a discussion of Nokia? Because the Finns are eating Steve Jobs' macrobiotic lunch, deal Fool. Already the global market leader any way you slice it, Nokia increased its mobile device share from 37% last year to 39% today. In the all-important and high-margin smartphone segment, or what Nokia calls "converged device" sales, Nokia now holds 40% of the worldwide market, up from 35% a year ago. For all the hoopla you hear about Apple and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) here in America, those guys are actually small fish in the ginormous seven seas.
Nokia still hasn't hit the big time in North America, perhaps because of a lack of well-designed distribution agreements with service providers like Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) , Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) , and AT&T (NYSE: T ) . The company sold only 3.8 million phones here in the fourth quarter while shipping over 12 million units to Latin America and nearly 18 million to Greater China. Maybe that's why investors and analysts here tend to forget about this stock.
Total sales shrank 5.3% year over year to $16.8 billion, hurt by a poor showing from the telecom infrastructure venture with Siemens (NYSE: SI ) . But margins are improving across the company’s larger, more important segments. Helped by a mobile devices division that’s on a roll, earnings fell by a minuscule $0.01 per depositary receipt to $0.36 per ADR.
The Finnish lion is roaring, but Steve Jobs gets all the attention. Once the Reality Distortion Field wears off, you'll see who the true leader in mobile computing is. Here's a hint: It doesn't wear a turtleneck sweater. Scoot over to CAPS and give Nokia some of the respect it deserves, will you?