Expect the big wireless companies reporting earnings this week to get a boost from a most unlikely source: teetering titan Nokia ( NOK). The Helsinki-based cell-phone giant has spent April recounting its product-line miscalculations. A pair of flip-phone stumbles has cost the company 2 points of worldwide market share and a third of its stock price. Now, also-ran handset maker Motorola ( MOT) and technology giant Qualcomm ( QCOM) are poised to cash in on Nokia's nagging problems. It seems that everyone else in wireless has something to gain from Nokia's fashion lapse. As Samsung showed last week and SonyEricsson revealed Monday, customers have been snapping up fresh new color-screen camera phones this year with abandon. But Nokia hasn't had a phone that fits the bill, and that leaves it sitting on a stale batch of last year's models. Some analysts suspect that Motorola, despite detours of its own, may have found the path to handset success in the latest quarter. And while Nokia was busy addressing a sales shortfall and lowering its top line forecast, Qualcomm has twice raised its guidance this year as business hums along at top form. Citing Motorola's popular "V" series of folding color phones, J.P. Morgan analyst Ehud Gelblum predicts that the company may have had a particularly "strong product lineup" at a time when consumers were looking for fancier phones. "At the mid- to high end of the market, where Nokia lost share, consumers are less sensitive to prices and more sensitive to fashion, features and design," Gelblum wrote in research report Monday. Gelblum has a buy rating on Motorola. His firm has been an underwriter for the company. Analysts expect Motorola to report a net profit of 7 cents per share on sales of $6.7 billion when the company presents first-quarter earnings after the close Tuesday. That compares with a per-share profit of 17 cents on $8 billion in sales in the prior period, and a penny-a-share profit on $6 billion in sales a year ago.
Even though AT&T tried a last-minute bribe of promising 5,000 new U.S. jobs to help gain support for the deal, the Justice Department filed a complaint to fight the combination of the nation's No. 2 and No. 4 wireless carriers.