Nokia ( NOK) hits it stride as rivals like Motorola ( MOT)
stumble . Nokia blew past fourth-quarter targets, adding market share, widening margins and sticking to a 10% industry growth forecast this year. Meanwhile, rival Motorola continues to lose business and take on red ink as it finds itself without a compelling phone line-up. The Finnish mobile phone giant posted fourth-quarter earnings of 1.84 billion euros ($2.7 billion) for a per-share profit of 47 euro cents. That is a 44% increase over the year-ago quarter and well ahead of analysts' expectations for 1.66 billion euros in profits. Sales for the quarter ended last month were $22.8 billion, a 34% jump from the $15 billion revenue level a year ago. Analysts had expected $21 billion in sales for the fourth quarter. "Nokia's excellent fourth quarter contributed to a year of high growth and increased profitability for the company, while our industry leading product portfolio drove our device business to an estimated 40% market share in the fourth quarter, CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said in a press release. Handset sales hit 133.5 million in shipments. That was a 20% increase over the third quarter and 27% above last year as the company enjoys great demand for phones across a wide range of prices. Analysts had expected 132 million phones would be sold in the quarter. Showing no sign of an inventory glut or price war, Nokia posted a wider operating margin of 15.9%, compared with 14.6% in the third quarter. As expected, the average sales price per phone, or ASP, fell to $121.70 from $130.50 a year ago, but up from the $120.20 level in the third quarter. Nokia shares rose $2.04, or 6%, to $34.47 in premarket trading Thursday.