In light of those reports, it's interesting to note who is placing bets on these handset makers.
Everything about Motorola's earnings reflects a troubled company in a difficult industry. Handset sales fell to 45.4 million units, down from 65.7 million. The company lost $181 million on the quarter, down from a profit of $686 million a year ago. Revenue fell to $9.4 billion, down from $9.6 billion in the year-ago quarter.
Motorola has become the center of a heated battle between activist investor Carl Icahn and Motorola management, led by CEO Ed Zander. Icahn has been pushing for a seat on the board, suggesting that if he won a seat he would reduce his commitment to those other companies where he's currently actively engaged.
Icahn's currently battling at
( MEDI) and
( WCI). For a list of all his holdings and activist endeavors, check out
Zander fired back yesterday at Icahn's suggestion that he could hold management accountable. Zander pointed out that Icahn had only bought shares in Motorola starting in January (Icahn currently owns a 2.9% stake) and that "even Carl Icahn would admit that he is not technologically savvy, or knowledgeable about our businesses." Zander also noted that Icahn has acknowledged that his first suggestion to the company, of increasing its share-buyback program, is inappropriate given the company's deepening operational difficulties.
While Icahn has been the most prominent activist investor in Motorola, it's worth noting that several value funds have been circling the company, accumulating shares while waiting or pushing for the company to make operational adjustments to handle the changes in the industry.
Prince Al-Waleed, the "Warren Buffett of the Middle East," has been building a position in Motorola and now holds a 1% stake in the company.
Prince Al-Waleed made billions investing in troubled companies such as AOL and
in the '90s. More recently he has been buying tech companies such as
(notably Icahn's largest holding),
, which watched its shares fall off after difficulties integrating its acquisition of Skype.
For the rest of his current holdings, check out the
Nokia, in contrast to Motorola, posted increased handset sales. It sold 91 million units, up more than 21% year over year. Price per unit, however, dropped more than 13% due to the fact it sold more phones into emerging markets where the prices per handset are lower. Shares were trading up more than 3.5% midday Thursday on this evidence that Nokia had stolen marketshare from Motorola.
One hedge fund winner on this news is super investor Leon Cooperman, manager of
, a $4.5 billion hedge fund based in New York City. Nokia represents 2.6% of Cooperman's portfolio, with $117 million invested in the company.
Other tech companies Cooperman owns include
. Cooperman historically is a deep value investor, and he's currently invested in troubled value plays such as
For more on the hedge funds and other investors who hold shares of Motorola, check out the
At the time of publication, Altucher and/or his fund had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.
James Altucher is a managing partner at Formula Capital, an alternative asset management firm that runs several quantitative-based hedge funds as well as a fund of hedge funds. He is also the author of
Trade Like a Hedge Fund
Trade Like Warren Buffett
. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Altucher appreciates your feedback;
to send him an email.
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