Mobile phone giant
's announcement of
and corporate restructuring Wednesday is probably just the tip of the iceberg as the company scrambles to cut more of its costs.
The world's largest mobile phone manufacturer added flesh to the bones of its previously announced restructuring, closing its research and development site in Jyvaskyla, Finland, and scaling down production at its Salo facility in Southern Finland. Some 320 jobs will be lost in Jyvaskala, as well as 2,500 temporary layoffs in Salo, according to a statement.
Nokia, which missed its
last month, has already expressed its desire to reduce costs and preserve the company's capital structure. The firm is hoping to shave around 700 million Euros ($900 million) off its operating expenses during 2009, although at least one analyst thinks that this may not be enough.
"I think that given the economic environment, things are tough enough that we will see more of this from Nokia," said Matt Thornton, senior analyst at Boston, Mass.-based
. "Most people, including myself, felt that that
$900 million wasn't enough."
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Nokia, like its competitor
, is certainly
at a time of
consumer confidence. The Finnish firm shipped 113 million phones in the fourth quarter, below the lowered target of 115 and a rare 4% sequential decline in what is typically the strongest sales period of the year.
The company also predicted that 2009 mobile phone sales will drop 10% below 2008 levels. Previously, Nokia had forecast a 5% slip.
Against this challenging backdrop, Nokia is likely to take a scalpel to more of its business, according to Avian Securities' Thornton.
"I am sure that they are going to look at all areas," he told
. "They are going to look at personnel across all areas, they are going to look at production consolidation and supply chain."
Rival Motorola, which has announced plans to
and "thousands" of
, is better equipped than Nokia to restructure quickly, according to Thornton.
"Nokia, I think, is a little bit behind the curve in terms of getting costs out," he says, adding that the Finnish firm is hindered by its size and Europe's stringent redundancy laws. "They are a bigger firm than Motorola, and they run into a lot more regulatory red tape."
The Finnish firm, which had more than 128,000 employees worldwide at the end of 2008, hinted that more cuts are on the way in a statement released Wednesday.
"All of these measures are part of Nokia's previously announced plans to adjust business operations and cost base," it said. "Nokia continues to seek savings in operational expenses, looking at all areas and activities across the company."
Despite plummeting sales of traditional mobile phones, Nokia can at least count on smartphones to offer some upside, although even this part of the market has its problems.
Avian Securities, for example, estimates that the smartphone market will grow 14% in 2009, although this is a significant slowdown from the prior year, which experienced growth of 33%.
Financial services firm Nomura Securities, however, paints a much bleaker picture.
"I find that the industry view that there will be good growth in smartphones in 2009 to be fundamentally flawed," wrote Nomura analyst Richard Windsor, in an email. "I see two years of almost no growth before a strong bounce back in 2011."
The analyst explained that no-one has a clear insight into smartphone demand over the coming months, making solid growth unlikely.
"From speaking to the industry and looking at my calculations, I see a disappointment coming in smartphones," he wrote. "There is limited visibility and I think that at the end of June, many
companies will realize that a massive pick-up in the second half of 2009 is unlikely."
Nokia also faces stiff competition from
Research In Motion (RIM)
, which said it expects
to be at or near the midpoint of its previously forecasted range Wednesday.
Nokia, which recently launched its first
smartphone, is clearly looking to claw market share from Apple's iconic iPhone, something which could potentially boost its sales during the coming months.
Investors responded negatively to news of Nokia's job cuts and the firm's shares slipped 24 cents, or 1.91%, to $12.31, despite modest gains in broader market indices.