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Nokia Enhances Gaming Portfolio

Zacks Equity Research

Nokia Corporation (NOK) has announced that its Asha handset users can now access Namco Bandai’s games through its Nokia Store. We believe that this is an attempt by the company to add value to its Asha range of touch devices.      

According to the agreement, Asha users would be able to play some of the top games by the Tokyo-based Namco Bandai Inc. and its American subsidiary, Namco Bandai Games Americas Inc. The list includes some of the most popular games available, like PAC-MAN, Final Fantasy, ACE COMBAT and Fight Control. The applications are available for game fans in more than 52 countries and will cost between $0.99 and $2.99.   

Of late, Nokia Corp, has been confronted with stiff competition and has repeatedly been downgraded by credit rating agencies. Thus, the company has a lot at stake here, and is vouching heavily on its Asha range of touch devices.

Asha 311, which possesses a 3.5 touch screen and a 1GHz processor, provides users with faster internet access, whereas Asha 305 is a dual sim phone and Asha 306 is the first Affordable Wi-Fi handset from Nokia’s stable. These three phones were launched with an aim of reaching the mass market which has been a strong foothold for Nokia over the years.   

Nokia has been losing market share to Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPhone and a gamut of smartphones that run on Google Inc.’s (GOOG) Android operating system.

In an effort to improve its falling smartphone market share, the company ditched its Symbian operating system and teamed up with Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) to develop Windows based smartphones. However, the recently launched Lumia is not expected to be a hit right away, as the company sold only 12 million handsets in the first quarter compared to Apple’s 35 million and Samsung’s 44.5 million.

From January to April 2012, almost 42% of the applications downloaded from Nokia store were delivered to Asha and other Nokia devices based on the Java ecosystem. We expect that addition of these popular games will not only improve the sales of its Asha range of handsets but will significantly increase the amount of content downloaded from its application store.        

The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for Nokia Corporation is pegged at a loss of 10 cents for the second quarter with a growth rate estimate of (215.00%). For 2012 and 2013, the Zacks Consensus Estimates stands at a loss of 29 and 3 cents with growth rate of (176.64%) and (111.73%), respectively.

Recommendation:

Nokia Corporation has a Zacks #3 Rank, implying a short-term Hold rating.

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