Maybe There's Something to This Nokia Thing

Someone once said, "It's all about who you know." Not sure if that's the case, but if there's even an iota of truth to the claim, Nokia's most recent partnership is yet another arrow in the beleaguered smartphone manufacturer's quiver. The joint venture with Microsoft and its Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating systems is old news. But early sales results of Nokia phones with the latest Microsoft OS are fairly recent -- and that news looks pretty good.

The latest Nokia alignment is with the resurgent social media behemoth, Facebook. According to a press release dated Nov. 26, Nokia and Facebook have partnered to offer the smartphone manufacturers' first-ever phone with a dedicated Facebook button. Nokia's mid-market Asha 205 phone will come equipped with a built-in Facebook button for mobile users.

Most news is good news for Nokia
The Nokia/Facebook partnership isn't going to immediately translate into a revenue-generating boom for either of them. However, as Facebook continues to expand its online user base -- 600 million of its 1 billion users access FB with their mobile devices -- it's clear smartphone consumers demand easy access to social media. What this strategic alignment does is give smartphone buyers another reason to consider Nokia in the crowded smartphone market. As for Nokia's Lumia phones, adding Facebook-ready access to its Lumia line of phones should be the logical next step.

What about those recently released Lumia smartphones? Though it's still too early for hard sales numbers, early indications of Nokia's phone partnership with Microsoft look good. Nokia proponents might go so far as to say very good.

As of last week, getting your hands on Nokia's Lumia 920 smartphone will take some doing. Being Cyber Monday and all, you may feel compelled to shoot over to for your new Nokia phone, and you can get one, too. The only problem is, it'll be a one- to two-week wait as tries to fill its orders. Sold out? It appears that way. And for the cyber shoppers lucky enough to have already gotten their Lumia phone, most seem to love it.

Another one of Nokia's key partners in its strategic shift to smartphones is AT&T. The good news is you can get a Lumia phone at the AT&T website, without the wait. Now, the really good news for Nokia shareholders: the only Lumia phone still available is in white, all the others have sold out.

Where does that leave us?
For long-suffering Nokia shareholders, this past week must feel like the holidays came early. Though, a 30% jump in share price to its current $3.50 range may have some Nokia proponents on edge. After all, what goes up, must come down, right? The upside is there's more to the increase in Nokia share price than just speculation or wishful thinking.

Much like the rush on Research In Motion's shares based on expectations of its soon-to-be-released BlackBerry 10 phones and upgraded OS, much of the jump in Nokia share price is a bet on Lumia running Windows 8. But as Nokia shareholders are quick to point out, and rightfully so, Nokia has a few other tangible things going for it.

Chief among Nokia's positive attributes are nearly $12 billion in cash on hand, an extensive patent portfolio valued at $6 billion, a 7% dividend yield, and a (now) profitable business line beyond mobile phones (Nokia's joint venture with Siemens generated 300 million euros in profit last quarter). Now, you add all that to what appears to be strong Lumia sales, along with its alignment with Facebook, and Nokia's become an even more intriguing investment option.

The buzz surrounding RIM and its upcoming BB10 should not be overlooked. If, as RIM shareholders would have you believe, the new BlackBerry OS will be all the rage, it could put a dent in Lumia sales. Why? Because the same consumer that looks to Lumia will likely consider BB10, since these are folks who want options beyond Apple iPhones. Google and its Nexus smartphones are already making waves, too, selling over a million units a month recently.

Are early Lumia sales, and an alignment with another industry heavyweight, signs that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop's revamping is working? It's still early, but it appears there is something to this Nokia thing, after all.

Microsoft is a key partner of Nokia, and has also struggled to return value to shareholders lately. But with the release of its own tablet, and the widely anticipated Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft may be poised for a turnaround. In this brand-new premium report on Microsoft, our analyst explains that while the opportunity is huge, the challenges are many. He's also providing regular updates as key events occur, so make sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.

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Fool contributor Tim Brugger has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook and Microsoft and has the following options: long JAN 2014 $20.00 calls on Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Facebook and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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