Nokia Q4 2010 Financial Results: Sales up 6% compared to Q4 09, but profits down 26%

Nokia’s Q4 2010 and full year 2010 financial results have just been published, and you’re likely to hear different conclusions drawn from the numbers depending on which analyst you read. That being said, I recommend you check out the results yourself and form your own thoughts. Let’s dive right in to what we found interesting: net sales hit 12.6 billion Euros in Q4 2010; that’s up 6% from the same quarter last year and up 23% from Q3 2010. This is expected thanks to holiday season. Profits hit 884 million Euros, and that’s down 23% compared to Q4 2009, but up 119% compared to Q3 2010. Nokia shipped 123.7 million devices during the Q4 quarter, down 3% from the same quarter a year ago, but up 12% compared to Q3 2010. Of those devices, 28.3 million of them were smartphones, up 36% year on year and up 7% from Q3 2010. Don’t get too happy now, Nokia’s estimated share of the smartphone market was 31% in Q4 2010, down from 40% in Q4 2009 and down from 38% in Q3 2010.

The average selling price of a Nokia mobile phone in Q4 2010 was 69 Euros, up 4 Euros compared to Q3 2010, and up 5 Euros in Q4 2009. Breaking that down even further, the average Nokia smartphone sold for 156 Euros in Q4, down 17% from the same quarter a year ago, but up 14% from Q3 2010. The average feature phone sold for 43 Euros, which is up 6% year on year and up 1% compared to Q3 2010.

The number of people working at Nokia, and that includes Nokia Siemens Networks, is up 7% in Q4 year on year, with the hiring taking place across the board, except in Europe where the number of staff fell 5%. The biggest gain in headcount, as a percentage, was 33% in Greater China followed by 20% in the Asian Pacific. The 10 markets in which Nokia generated the greatest net sales in all of 2010 were (in descending order): China, India, Germany, Russia, the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Indonesia, together representing approximately 52% of total net sales in 2010. Nokia’s Devices and Services organization, the folks who make the toys we love to buy, experienced a 26% increase in profit compared to Q3 2010, but that’s down 16% compared to Q4 2009. Margins are also slipping, from 14.9% in Q4 2009 to 12% in Q4 2010.

Many analysts were predicting doom, gloom, and the coming apocalypse, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Yes, Nokia is still bleeding, but not as fast as people have come to expect. Of great concern however is the guidance Nokia has provided for Q1 2011. They say that margins are going to fall even further in their Devices & Services division, this time to single digit levels.

Update: On the Q4 2010 conference call, and of those 28.3 million smartphones shipped during the quarter, over 5 million of them ran Symbian^3.

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