It's not easy being green -- or being Nokia
Where to begin? Oh, let's just dive in headlong.
Buy me -- please!
Last week, rumor had it that Microsoft
But Nokia denied the rumor, calling it "baseless" -- and shares plunged without hestitation. It didn't help any that the denial came as an aside to dramatically lowered guidance.
This week, the rumor mill started up again. This time, the supposed Nokia buyer was Korean electronics giant Samsung. Once again, Nokia flatly denies any behind-the-scenes talks because "Nokia is not for sale." The original rumor hardly moved Nokia shares to begin with, so this hand-washing didn't hurt much.
Still, that's two rumored buyouts shot down in the span of a few days. It's starting to smell like attempted market manipulation -- just not a very successful campaign.
Nokia's handset business is not the only part of the company drawing fire. The balance sheet is another popular target.
On Tuesday, credit-ratings powerhouse Fitch cut Nokia down to a just-above-junk BBB- rating with a negative long-term outlook. On Thursday, Standard & Poor's followed suit, placing Nokia on "CreditWatch with negative implications." Both firms cite falling sales and pressured margins as reasons for their downgrades.
Fitch even discounts Nokia's $16 billion pile of cash -- which, even when considering debt, leaves the company with a net balance of $10 billion -- because companies in Nokia's situation "can feel threatened to rapidly spend accumulated cash in a number of ways when faced with steep changes in market-share dynamics." In other words, Nokia might be tempted to blow all that cash on pointless acquisitions or other panic moves, which wouldn't help shareholders any.
But wait -- there's more!
The fun didn't stop there. Chief Technology Officer Rich Green picked this backdrop against which to take personal leave -- and local newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reports that he's not coming back. That's because he -- again, the company CTO -- disagreed with the technical direction Nokia is taking.
Overriding the CTO in matters of technical strategy makes you wonder why Elop bothered to hire Green in the first place. It's also another vote of no confidence from an executive supremely poised to know something about what Windows Phone means to the company.
The carnival of errors has gone so far that component suppliers from little Skyworks Solutions
Next to perennially unloved Research In Motion
Granted, arch nemeses Apple
There's no love to go around, nor any high hopes of a drastic turnaround. Nokia's stock is seen as dead money as Android and Apple are eating its global market share, hold the ketchup.
Elop isn't making any friends by claiming that Apple's closed ecosystem essentially created the need for an open Android system, as he did at a conference in London this week. It's starting to look as though the supposed savior of Nokia has no clue what he's dealing with. Did Microsoft plant him there just to gain a reliable hardware partner? If so, it looks like that sneaky strategy backfired.
Does Nokia stand a chance in this market with its cart firmly attached to Microsoft's mobile horse? I don't think so. Remember that Palm once commanded a market cap north of $50 billion before falling to superior competition and selling out to Hewlett-Packard
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Google but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. He wishes he could make $1.2 billion on a song. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Texas Instruments, Microsoft, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Our services have also recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple and a diagonal call position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.
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