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A jittery market shaved 17 per cent off Nokia's share price on Tuesday after the company announced lower than previously anticipated sales figures.

Nokia this week said that handset sales would rise 19 per cent, but that's less it had forecast in January. Instead of a first quarter sales increasing by between three to seven per cent, Nokia announced that sales would be two per cent down. A class action suit in the US has been filed against CEO Jorma Ollila, company president Peka Ala-Pietela, CFO Richard Simonson and chief strategy officer Matti Alahuhuta in a New York district court.

Ambulance-chasing lawsuits are hardly rare in the United States. Milberg Weiss, the law firm that filed Tuesday's action against Nokia is something of a specialist. has filed ten similar cases a month in the last six months, including Nortel Networks, and Wave Systems, the favorite of Howard Dean's former campaign manager and "cyber guru" Joe Trippi.

Such suits have proved difficult for investors to win. Plaintiffs need to prove that the company officers willfully misled shareholders. Nokia issued a statement saying the case was without merit and vowed to defend it. ®

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