Updated from 8:05 a.m. EST
Fickle consumers went back to preferring cheap cell phones in October and as a result
said its sales -- but not its earnings -- suffered.
The Finnish handset giant guided to the low end of its previous revenue range in a mid-quarter update, saying it expects fourth-quarter sales in the 8.8 billion-9 billion euros range, not the 8.9 billion-9.2 billion range it offered previously.
The outlook sent its shares down 2.3% on Instinet to $17.61.
Wall Street had hoped the wireless bellwether would raise sales guidance and signal a turnaround in at least one corner of the technology economy. But the first signs of trouble came last week during a Nokia investors meeting, when it dialed back growth expectations for next year to 10% from 15%. Moreover, considering Nokia's recent global launches of new phone models, analysts were counting on the company to sell more of its expensive models, including the snazzy 7650 camera phone.
Nevertheless, Nokia said pro forma diluted earnings per share would be within its previous range of 0.23-0.25 euros. The company also said margins in its cell-phone operations have been higher than the 22% it previously forecast and that its was snapping up market share. Still, most of the cell phones it has sold this quarter have been of the less elaborate variety.
"Handset sales, while being seasonally strong, have tended towards the mass-volume end of the product portfolio in the lead-up to the holiday season," Nokia said in a statement. It reiterated expectations for global sales of 400 million mobile phones in 2002, a slight rise from last year.
Nokia CFO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo hinted that the sales mix skewed to the lower end based on delays getting middle- and high-end handsets to the market. "Our ASP
average selling price will be lower," he told analysts on a morning call. "The ramping up schedule of our products contributed to this."
"This slippage in phone ASPs appears to reflect the delays we have recently highlighted in the rollout of some of the higher end new handsets such as the color screen 7200 and 6100," wrote Lehman Brothers analyst Tim Luke in a morning note.