Nokia shares continue slide after outlook downgrade

Posted at 06/03/11 10:47 PM

HELSINKI - The world's top mobile phone maker Nokia saw its share price slump again Friday, three days after it dramatically downgraded its second quarter outlook and said it could no longer provide a full-year forecast.

Slightly before 2 pm (1100 GMT) Friday, the mobile phone giant's share price had dropped 4.50 percent to 4.50 euros on a Helsinki stock exchange down 1.68 percent.

Following Tuesday's announcement, the company's shares had closed down a whopping 17.5 percent, and they continued to slide Wednesday, although a rumour that Microsoft had agreed to buy the Finnish company appeared to have softened the blow, and the shares ended down 0.76 percent.

The continued slide Friday, after trading stopped Thursday for a public holiday, was not unexpected, Pohjola Bank analyst Hannu Rauhala told AFP.

"It's quite normal that the share price continues to go down a couple of days" after a profit warning, he said.

The ongoing drop, which has left Nokia's share price at the lowest level since early 1998, before it became the market leader, followed its announcement its second quarter sales would be far worse than previously expected and that it could no longer give a full-year forecast.

Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop, who joined the company from Microsoft last year, said Tuesday the Finnish company's sharp outlook downgrade was part of a rocky transition period as it phases out its Symbian smartphone platform in favour of a tie-in with Microsoft Phone.

The mobile phone maker said it hopes to regain lost ground when it starts shipping its first Microsoft handsets at the end of this year.

The sharp drop in Nokia's share price in recent days has meanwhile fueled speculation that the world's leading mobile phone company is ripe for sale.

"It's normal there's speculation that somebody is interested in buying Nokia," considering the low share price, Rauhala said, adding possible matches included Microsoft, Apple or Google.

He said however he did not know whether Nokia would be willing to sell.

Nokia has rejected a report Wednesday that Microsoft had agreed to buy Nokia for $19 billion (13 billion euros).