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Nokia Raises Forecasts for Cell Phone Growth

December 06, 2000|Bridge News, Bloomberg News

Technology stocks may have gotten their biggest lift Tuesday thanks to the Fed, but cellular phone giant Nokia also helped boost sentiment.

The world's largest maker of mobile phones said it extended its expectation of 25% to 35% annual revenue growth to include 2003, from a previous forecast that went as far as 2002.

The company also said it now believes that the number of global mobile phone subscribers will reach 1 billion in the first half of 2002, rather than the end of that year.

In a statement coinciding with its annual meeting with analysts, Nokia forecast that Web-connected handsets will outnumber personal computers worldwide as early as 2002, compared with its earlier projection of 2003.

For 2001, Nokia estimates the number of Web-enabled phone units will rise to 200 million from 60 million this year.

CEO Jorma Ollila expressed confidence that "the best is yet to come" in mobile telecom.

"The opportunities in the future are enormous as we enter an unprecedented time when mobility, Internet, digitized media and other content can be combined and become available to almost anyone, any time and anywhere," he said.

Investors responded by pushing Nokia's U.S.-traded shares (ticker symbol: NOK) up $6.81 to $51.38, a 15% gain. The stock is at its highest level since July.

Among other telecom issues, Ericsson (ERICY) gained $1.31 to $13.63, Wireless Facilities (WFII) surged $6.81 to $40.75, AT&T Wireless (AWE) jumped $2.06 to $19.56 and Qualcomm (QCOM) rocketed $9.63 to $99.63.

Still, some analysts warned that Nokia will soon face greater competition from producers of hand-held computers, and from Asian phone makers.

Nokia "succeeded in placing itself in the No. 1 position in a market it helped create and seems to be sustaining that lead," said Jeremy Podger, European fund manager at Investec Guinness Flight, which oversees $20 billion. "We're still concerned about potential introduction of new competition from suppliers in Asia."

While 72% of Nokia's sales come from making phones, the company says it will continue to boost its networking unit. It expects its target network markets to grow 30% per year over the next three years.

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