Nokia to skip dividend for first time in 143 years; shares drop

Pulp, Rubber

Nokia started as a wood-pulp and paper company in 1865 before expanding into rubber, electronics and eventually telecommunications. The company has paid a dividend every year since at least 1871, according to electronic records, Nokia’s centennial jubilee tome published in 1965 and printed annual reports reviewed by Bloomberg at the National Library of Finland. No data for 1865 to 1870 were available.

Once the world’s largest smartphone maker, Nokia’s market share topped 50 percent before Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android operating system were introduced about five years ago. Nokia has lost more than 80 percent of its market value since then and fallen outside the top-five smartphone makers.

Elop, who joined from Microsoft in 2010, started betting on his former employer’s operating system after Nokia’s homegrown Symbian software fell out of favor among consumers.

Cash Concerns

Investment in the new strategy has yet to reverse falling sales, and investors have worried over Espoo, Finland-based Nokia’s cash position as it struggles to win back consumers.

“Nokia first had to cut back on expenses and they have done a good job of securing the balance sheet, so now they need to boost sales and get consumers to buy more Lumias,” said Morten Imsgard, an analyst at Sydbank A/S. “It’s still too early to see how well they will succeed at this.”

Nokia’s debt is ranked BB- at Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings and an equivalent Ba3 by Moody’s Investors Service, three levels below investment grade. All three raters have a negative outlook on Nokia. S&P said in August it may downgrade Nokia again if the company failed to stabilize margins and “significantly cut its cash losses.”

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