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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Nokia Corporation, Siemens AG, Google Inc., Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corporation

CHICAGO, Jan. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Nokia Corporation (NOK),Siemens AG (SI), Google Inc.(GOOG), Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Microsoft Corporation(MSFT)

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Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Four daily picks are offered free.

Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Nokia Leaps on Lumia Show

The hard times for Nokia Corporation (NOK) witnessed in 2012 seems to be partially over as the Finnish handset manufacturer reported a better-than-expected performance in the fourth quarter of 2012 in its preliminary financial report. Good shows by the company's flagship smartphone, Lumia 920 along with the ongoing cost cutting initiatives are mainly attributable for the impressive results.

Strong Performance in Fourth Quarter

This is for the first time in almost a year that the company is reporting an increase in smartphone shipments.

The preliminary report shows that Nokia sold 4.4 million Lumia devices in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to only 2.9 million units in the previous quarter, marking a sequential growth of almost 52%. Sales of smartphone and total handset business stood at 6.6 million and 79.6 million respectively compared to with 6.3 million and 76.6 million at the end of the third quarter of 2012. The shareholders welcomed the news as the stock soared 18.67% on Thursday to close at $4.45 at Nasdaq.

Financially also the company's device and service segment performed better than the last quarter, reporting a sequential growth of almost 15%.

Nokia-Siemens Network (NSN) – the company's equal joint venture with Siemens AG (SI), has also performed better than expected as the company is concentrating on higher margin wireless network. Additionally, the company's strategic policy of retrenching employees and selling its non-core units seems to have helped the company, as it is all set to deliver solid financial performance in the coming quarter.

Lackluster 2012

2012 has been a real bad year for Nokia as the company lost its title as the world's largest cell phone manufacturer to Samsung Electronics. Amid stiff competition from Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android and Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iOS-based phones, the company lost its smartphone leadership. To make matters worse, the company's credit status was downgraded to junk and the company has to cut as much as 10,000 jobs.    

Are Good Times Really Back for Nokia?

It appears that the company's decision to join hands with Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) is finally paying its dividend as the large screen Lumia 920 with some great imaging and mapping feature is attracting more customers. Reportedly, Nokia witnessed supply shortages in several countries for its Lumia 820 and 920, which otherwise could have yielded a better outcome.  

According to research firm IDC, at the end of the third quarter, Samsung and Apple have shipped 56.3 million and 26.9 million smartphones and also garnered a far significant market share in the smartphone market. With Lumia 920 bringing in a fresh breadth of life for the company, we believe Nokia needs to be much more consistent to turn the tables in its favor.

Things are really looking bright for the struggling handset manufacturer in the last few days.  But that does not mean everything has started to run smoothly for the company. Despite the impressive Lumia performance, the total handset sale in fourth quarter is expected to touch 86.3 million handsets, down 24% from the previous year quarter. Along with it the quarterly sales of $5.1 billion failed to match the sales figure of $7.8 billion, reported in the fourth quarter of 2011.  

However, moving forward the company expects to overcome its supply shortages associated with Lumia 920 and wants to expand in emerging markets like India, which has been a strong hunting ground for the company.    

We maintain our long-term Neutral recommendation on Nokia Corporation. Currently, it holds a short-term Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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