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Ailing Finish handset manufacturer Nokia Corporation (NOK - Analyst Report) has announced its intention to launch the new Lumia range of smartphones with some of the leading European carriers.

Nokia is planning to launch Lumia 920 with France’s second largest mobile operator Vivendi SA as early as November, while Telecom Italia S.P.A (TI - Snapshot Report) the largest telecommunication company in Italy has announced to launch the phone in Italy.  However, both the companies haven’t specified any launch date.  

Operators in some of the smaller European Nations like Belgium have confirmed that they don’t expect Nokia Lumia to hit the market before January 2013, while Czech Republic’s second largest carrier T-Mobile Czech Republic is opting to play a waiting game till the windows-based device becomes a hit among customers. 

On September 5, 2012, Nokia unwrapped its latest Lumia offering, which runs on Microsoft Corporation’s (MSFT - Analyst Report) Windows Phone 8 software. The company’s flagship Lumia 920 and the mid tier Lumia 820 with several new additional features is believed to be the last gamble from Nokia to get back the customer confidence in Windows-based smartphones.   

Recently, the company teamed up with the largest U.S. telecom carrier Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ - Analyst Report) – to sell new Windows Phone 8-based smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2012. At present Nokia has three of the top 4 U.S. carriers under its stable, offering Lumia handsets.

We believe this is a pure strategic move by the company to reduce its dependence on the lucrative U.S. market, which is the largest yet the most competitive smartphone market in the world. Additionally, an early launch gives them the leverage to capture the market in Europe as it fights competition with arch rival Apple Inc. (AAPL - Analyst Report) iphone5 and Samsung Electronic Co.’s Windows-based smartphones.

The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for Nokia Corporation is pegged at a loss of 12 cents for the third quarter of 2012 with a growth rate estimate of (398.6%). For 2012, the Zacks Consensus Estimate stands at a loss of 38 cents with a growth rate of (201.0%) while for 2013, the Zacks Consensus Estimate stands at a loss of 2 cents with a growth rate of 95.5%.

Recommendation:

We retain our long-term Neutral recommendation on Nokia Corp. Currently, it has a Zacks #3 Rank, implying a short-term Hold rating.

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