Nokia ratings slump; as Samsung becomes biggest mobile phone vendor

Standard & Poor’s has cut its credit rating on Finnish cellphone maker Nokia to junk on expectations of lower sales, following a similar move by Fitch Ratings earlier this week. S&P said on Friday the decline in sales in Nokia’s phone business this year could be similar to the 18 percent fall in 2011, and downgraded its rating to BB+ from BBB-.

While, Samsung has just toppled Nokia’s 14-year run as the world’s biggest vendor of mobile phones in terms of shipments. In the first quarter of 2012 Samsung shipped 93.5 million handsets—36 per cent more than a year earlier—overtaking the Finnish phone giant who shipped a mere 82.7 million.

Bloomberg reports that it’s Samsung’s smart phones that have driven its sales, as it shipped a massive 44.5 million of the things in the first three months of the year. By way of comparison, Apple shipped 35.1 million units in the first quarter.

Nokia has been the world’s biggest seller of mobile phone since 1998, a title which it snatched from Motorola. Remember those days, Moto?

Nokia, once the world’s dominant mobile phone provider, has lost out to Apple and Google in the smartphone business. Its shares were down 0.7 percent at 1210 GMT.

Chief executive Stephen Elop is pinning hopes of a turnaround on Lumia – a new range of smartphones which use Microsoft software. Sales so far have been slow, and are yet to compensate for diving sales of legacy products.

“We still expect revenue from Lumia smartphones to grow over time but not sufficiently to offset a rapid decline in revenue from Symbian-based smartphones over the next few quarters,” S&P analysts said in a note.
Nokia said it had 4.9 billion euros ($6.5 billion) net cash reserves and was trying to turn around the business.
“The main focus of these actions is on lowering the company’s costs, improving cash flow and maintaining a strong financial position, while bringing attractive new products to market,” finance director Timo Ihamuotila said in a statement. REUTERS/GIZMODO.