Business

Nokia, after 'precipitous decline,' cut to junk by Moody's

BusinessCredit RatingsRatingsMoody's Corporation

Nokia Corp., the Finnish phone maker already in a world of hurt, had its credit rating downgraded to junk status by Moody’s Investors Service on Friday.

The company's rating fell a notch to Ba1, from Baa3, and is now held at junk status by all three major credit ratings agencies, including Fitch and Standard & Poor's.

On Thursday, the company said it would slash 10,000 jobs by the end of 2013, shut down several research and manufacturing facilities and restructure the business. Last year, Nokia said it would reduce its ranks by 14,000 positions.

The company is the largest manufacturer of mobile communication devices in the world, claiming a third of the global market, according to Moody's.

But the ratings agency had a negative outlook for Nokia, writing in its report that the company's "structural challenges ... may not be easy to address."

Nokia's unit sales for its mobile phones were down 16% year over year in the first quarter, causing revenues for the entire segment to tumble 35%, the company said earlier this week.

And it may not be the last "precipitous decline" for Nokia as manufacturers of low-end phones and promotions from Chinese carriers encroach on its position, according to Moody's.

The company is also struggling to transition smartphones from the Symbian system to Windows-based Lumia devices.

Nokia is becoming increasingly dependent on the Lumia line, which it anticipates to fall in step behind Google's Android products and Apple's iOS offerings.

What Nokia does next with Windows 8 and future products is "crucial," according to a separate statement Friday from Fitch.

For now, the company seems headed toward "a precarious combination of a depleted cash balance without an end in sight to the declining cash flows," Fitch wrote. "Although the cost-cutting provides some relief, ultimately the company needs to demonstrate that its products are attractive to consumers and can enable it to win back market share."

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