What's With the Optimism About Nokia?

Investors are betting that Nokia shares will gain 14 percent over the next several weeks, according to a BusinessWeek piece this morning. But even Columbo would have a hard time finding evidence for such an upswing.

The bullish options traders believe Nokia can begin to right a ship that has dramatically tilted in recent months. The company in October posted a brutal quarter and a surprise loss of $832 million due largely to write-offs in its Nokia Siemens Networks unit. Its presence in the U.S. market continues to wane and, as the BusinessWeek piece notes, Fitch Rankings cut Nokia’s credit ranking three weeks ago.

So why the hopeful wagering? From the story:

“Investors are betting that Nokia can’t continue to get things wrong,” said Michael Yoshikami, chief investment strategist at YCMNet Advisors in Walnut Creek, Calif… “The iPhone has been a wake-up call for them and they are starting to show that they understand the market has changed.”

That’s pretty flimsy logic, though, and there’s little to demonstrate that Nokia finally gets it. True, the company has made some smart, recent moves like halving its smartphone lineup, bringing Ovi to AT&T, and vowing to give Symbian a much-needed makeover. But it’s not like the market is getting any easier: In addition to the continued success of the iPhone and the hit Droid, Google’s Nexus One just came to market and Palm appears ready to launch the Pre with both AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the coming months. There are still reasons to be somewhat bullish on N0kia as the handset market rebounds this year, of course, but betting on a 14 percent bump in value by Feb. 19 seems baseless.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Hamner_Fotos.

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