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Small pile of cash, dying platform: 2011 is bad news for Nokia

Sales, profits, margins, all spiralling down

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Nokia's results for 2011 show the company has shipped a million Lumia handsets and has cash in the bank, but other than that there's nothing good to report.

The results (PDF, dull, dull, dull) show last year's operating profit of €2,070m turned into a loss of €1,073m, based on sales which were down almost 10 per cent compared to 2010. The company's Windows-Phone-based Lumia isn't selling as fast as hoped, and it seems that Symbian isn't proving as popular as it used to be either, all of which is bad news for Nokia.

Nokia tried to be upbeat, pointing out that the company has plenty of cash and that 2012 will be "a year of transition", though what Nokia is transforming into remains to be seen. The projection that Nokia would ship 150 million Symbian handsets during the migration to Windows Phone is looking increasingly optimistic as no one seems to want to develop apps for a platform with a scheduled death.

As Nokia puts it: "Market conditions are putting increased pressure on Symbian. In certain markets, there has been an acceleration of the anticipated trend towards lower-priced smartphones with specifications that are different from Symbian’s traditional strengths."

Not that Nokia has helped much: yesterday the company launched the Asha 300, a Series 40 handset with a touchscreen, 1GHz processor and Angry Birds pre-installed, leaving Symbian with no gap to fill between smart and feature phones.

Microsoft did chip in $250m in "platform support payments", the first installment of the bribe which drove Nokia into Redmond's arms, and Nokia is making lots of noise about its "Location & Commerce Business" which is behind the spread of Nokia Maps. Those will be replacing Bing Maps across Microsoft's portfolio, pushing the Nokia brand onto the screens of competitors' handsets which could prove controversial.

Nokia Siemens Networks, the infrastructure arm of the company, had a bad time of it too, though the company points out that it has been busy acquiring Motorola's infrastructure operations so one shouldn't compare year-on-year results.

Nokia will pay a slight higher-than-expected dividend on the year, which appeased investors, but there's little else in the results to be happy about. ®

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