There were even discussions about splitting-off NSN into an initial public offering -- creating a separate entity. But the uncertainty is now over. And I believe that Nokia's decision just raised its profile. As much as I've beaten up management for past failures there is now cause for optimism, especially given the high margin capabilities of the network business. Nokia has a better path towards long-term profitability.
Investors have to rejoice that Nokia's long-term success doesn't have to be so heavily weighted on the device business, which is not getting any better in terms of market share. But I do applaud the company for turning devices into a profitable business -- growing gross margin by 70 basis points in the recent quarter and reversing last year's loss.
Plus, with carrier spending expected to rebound, Nokia's NSN, which is already a leader in LTE (long-term evolution) networks, is poised to capitalize on the recovery. Interestingly, though, in one decision Nokia has now justified its highly criticized cost-cutting measures. This deal probably would not have been possible without an improved cash-flow environment.
It still remains to be seen, though, what Nokia ultimately does with NSN. From an investment perspective, it's premature to speculate how much value NSN will bring to Nokia absent clear operating strategies by management. But no matter how you look at it, Nokia's prospects and value have just improved given the many options it now has at its disposal, including selling NSN.
In the meantime, though, I'm still not ready to jump into this stock. But I'm no longer convinced that it's an absolute sell, either. It's taken 21 months into his tenure as Nokia's CEO, but I believe Stephen Elop has finally earned my respect. It's a good day for Nokia's investors.
At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL.
This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.