Can Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Earnings Change the Negative Merger Bias?

If there is one technology merger that investors in Europe and investors in America feel grossly underwhelmed about, it has to be that of Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Alcatel-Lucent SA (NYSE: ALU). The two companies both need a serious reset of investor bias, and both companies still need their next “it” thing to drive interest. This week may offer that opportunity for Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia alike to shine as they are both set to deliver earnings.

The question is whether each or both can actually shine again. Nokia has been stuck in the mud for years and Alcatel-Lucent’s turnaround story is so old that the only reason it has such a large interest by investors is because of its super-low share price. Both stocks are also just a mere fraction of their glory days.

With yet another merger approval coming late this last week, investors still have hurdles to clear before this deal actually takes place. Many shareholders have signaled that they think it was of no real premium, and that is bad considering the cross-border integrations and internal friction that may take place when you start amalgamating all of these facilities and workers.

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) will report earnings on Thursday. The earnings will come out in Paris, and the trading in Europe is more active than it is in New York. Shares in New York trading closed up 1.7% at $3.37 on Friday against a 52-week range of $1.78 to $4.57.

Thomson Reuters has the consensus estimates, converted from euro to dollars for an added twist, as $0.01 EPS on $3.79 billion in revenues. That was shown to be 15% lower in revenue but up from a loss at -$0.01 a year ago.

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Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is also set to report on Thursday. Its ADSs rose only 0.3% to $6.74 on Friday in New York trading, which means that investors are even less caring about Nokia’s side of the merger being approved. Nokia’s ADSs have a 52-week range of $6.26 to $8.73.

Thomson Reuters has the consensus estimates, also given that twist for a conversion from euros to dollars, at $0.06 EPS on $3.55 billion in revenue. Versus a year ago, that would be about 12% lower in revenue and would be against $0.08 EPS.

Due to the market cap differential, investors need to consider that Alcatel-Lucent is really being gobbled up – meaning that the Finnish tech giant will be in charge of the French tech giant.

One good thing that would come from this merger is that both companies are flush with cash. Alcatel ended 2014 with roughly $6.7 billion worth of cash and cash equivalents versus over $9.3 billion for Nokia. Nokia also has that sale of HERE in maps that is reportedly coming for $2 billion to $2.5 billion or so from car companies in Europe. This would give the companies some serious firepower if they can normalize their expense structure and find proper roll-up mergers that can start immediately adding on to earnings and/or growth.

Additionally, Nokia’s recent patent license deal with LG Electronics is expected to add to Nokia earnings. Unfortunately, one report indicated that it could take years to really add on to earnings.

Investors need to consider one thing here from the European Union. they approved the merger on Friday, and this approval matters the most. Europe wants its technology sector to remain relevant, and it would probably even avoid any antitrust concerns that it might normally have if it means that a European technology giant is more dominant (or relevant) on a global scale.

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