Nokia, Alcatel Ride Merger Plans, Not Earnings

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Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) reported third-quarter 2015 results before markets opened Thursday. The company posted adjusted earnings per share of €0.08 (about $0.09) on revenues of €3.04 billion (about $3.33 billion). In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of €0.57 ($0.62) on revenues of €3.09 billion (about $3.38 billion). Third-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.07 and $3.66 billion in revenues.

On a constant currency basis, revenues were down 10% year over year and up 6% sequentially. For the year to date, revenues are down 2% on a constant currency basis.

What Nokia wants to focus on, however, is its pending $17 billion merger with France’s Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). The merger recently received approval from regulators in China and France to add to earlier OKs from the European Union and the United States. The company now expects to make the initial exchange offer in the first quarter of 2016.

For its part, Alcatel-Lucent reported a net loss of €206 million (about $225 million), but investors didn’t seem to mind, pushing the shares up nearly 8% in Paris trading.

For Nokia’s investors the other big news was a €4 billion ($4.38 billion) share buyback program and a €3 billion ($3.28 billion) deleveraging plan. According to Thursday’s announcement of the two programs, the cost savings from the merger are being sped up, with Nokia now targeting approximately €900 million of operating cost synergies in 2018, compared to its earlier target to achieve approximately €900 million of operating cost synergies in 2019. The two programs depend on closing the Alcatel-Lucent merger, and the sale of Nokia’s HERE mapping technology to a consortium comprised of Audi, BMW and Daimler for €2.8 billion, also scheduled to be completed in the first quarter.

Nokia’s stock traded up about 9% in early trading Thursday, at $7.24 in a 52-week range of $5.71 to $8.44. The consensus price target on the stock is $8.75.

Alcatel-Lucent traded up about 7.6%, at $3.89 in a 52-week range of $2.86 to $4.96. The consensus price target on the stock is $4.39.

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