Nokia's Lumia sales show promise in Q4, but Symbian continues to slide

Nokia may have shipped over 1 million Lumia handsets in the fourth quarter, and could boost this number to 3.2 million in the first quarter, according to a survey of analysts.

A Bloomberg survey of 22 forecasters had only one analyst predicting Lumia sales of below 1 million, with 1.3 million being a popular estimate for shipment made by the end of 2011. Expectations among the 22 analysts surveyed ranged from sales of 800,000 Lumia phones to 2 million, though the average expectations were above 1 million. Nokia will report its fourth-quarter earnings Thursday.

"The numbers look promising," Espen Furnes, an Oslo-based fund manager at Storebrand Asset Management, told Bloomberg. "If Nokia is able to have a strong launch and surpass at least one million and keep that type of momentum, this would help put them in a credible position that is crucial to winning back investors."

However, Nokia's overall smartphones sales, which still rely heavily on Symbian, may have plummeted 36 per cent in the quarter, analysts said, and will likely have a damaging effect on Nokia's overall revenue and profit. Industry watchers are already saying that the company is likely to have made a loss of €91.6 million in the fourth quarter, with sales down 21 per cent at around €10 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Commenting on the decline in Symbian sales, Goldman Sachs analyst Tim Boddy issued a note claiming that Nokia remains in a challenging transition period. "First-half device sales are likely to be soft as Lumia demand ramps up only gradually and Symbian declines steepen," he wrote.

This worry regarding Lumia sales volumes has been highlighted by Neil Mawston, a director at research firm Strategy Analytics. Speaking to Dow Jones Newswire, Mawston said investors are focusing too much on Nokia's latest smartphones so soon after their release, and given they're only available in a handful of countries.

"It's too soon to judge," Mawston said. "If you look back to Apple's iPhone performance in 2007 and Google's Android in 2008, they had a sluggish start the first quarter after launch and people started to write them off, but new models came a year or so later and sales rocketed."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Dow Jones Newswire article

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