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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 16:42 GMT
Nokia boosted by Christmas demand
Nokia mobile phone
Nokia's main rivals have already delivered their latest results
The world's biggest mobile phone maker, Nokia, reported a smaller-than-expected drop in quarterly earnings on the back of strong demand over Christmas.

Fourth-quarter pre-tax profits were 1.46bn euros (1bn; $1.9bn), compared with 1.73bn euros in 2003.

That topped forecasts for a drop in profits to 1.3bn euros. Net sales rose to 9bn euros from 8.7bn euros.

The figures come at the end of a tough year for Nokia, after the Finnish group warned it was losing market share.

Upbeat prospects

"The past year was demanding for Nokia, (but) I believe we are now better positioned to meet future challenges," chief executive Jorma Ollila said.

Nokia: 30.4%
Motorola: 15.3%
Samsung: 12.7%
Siemens: 7.2%
LG: 6.5%
Sony Ericsson: 6.2%
Others: 21.7%

Source: Strategy Analytics

Nokia was upbeat about its prospects for 2005, and forecast strong first-quarter sales.

The company has been striving to improve its range of mobile phone handsets - a problem, Nokia said, largely responsible for its recent drop in market share.

"Nokia's phones have been doing very well," said analyst Jussi Hyoty at FIM Securities. "The results show that the product portfolio has been improving step by step and this promises a good 2005 as well."

US jobs cut

Figures from Strategy Analytics show that Nokia has maintained its overall dominant position in the market, with a 30.4% share of global sales. However, this is a drop from 34.8% in 2003.

Strategy Analytics also said handset makers shipped a record 200 million mobile phones in the fourth quarter of 2004, bringing the total for the year to a record 648 million.

Nokia's forecast for stronger first-quarter sales contrasts with the more subdued outlooks from major handset rivals Motorola and Sony Ericsson.

Separately, Nokia said it would cut 350 jobs by the end of April at its US mobile phone factory in Texas, as the company moves high-volume handset assembly to other locations.

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