There’s nothing to be impressed about Nokia (NYSE:NOK) stock this year. It seems like nothing is going right. So far, the return on Nokia stock price is a miserable -17%, despite a strong bull move in the tech space.
But there is nothing new about this. Let’s face it, Nokia stock has not had much traction for quite a while. Note that the average return for the past decade is -5.81%.
Despite all this, might there still be a contrarian play here? Maybe the company’s strategy is the right one? Hey, after all, we’ve seen slumbering tech gains like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) find ways to renew their businesses. And this has resulted in substantial gains for shareholders.
So, could there potentially be something similar with NOK stock? Granted, this may seem kind of laughable right now. The company has shown lapses in execution, as witnessed in its latest earnings report. Nokia posted a loss of 2 cents a share and revenues of $4.49 billion, while the Street was looking for a profit of 2 cents a share and revenues of $5.06 billion.
But when it comes to transforming a company, the progress can be choppy. Competition remains tough and there are long sales cycles.
However, NOK is still a much better company today, as it has done much of the needed heavy-lifting of cost cutting and restructuring to streamline operations. There have also been some major acquisitions, such as for Alcatel-Lucent.
Yet, the most important potential catalyst is the emergence of 5G. As an indication of the importance of this trend, look at Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). It appears that the key reason it settled its massive lawsuit against Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) was to ensure that the company has the necessary technology for 5G. This technology is a must-have.
While mobile network transitions do not necessarily result in major demand for equipment, this time is likely to be different. Speeds for 5G are likely to be 100 times faster than 4G, which means there will probably be a surge in innovation. And this means more than just greatly improving smartphones. There will also be opportunities in categories like IoT (Internet-of-Things), gaming, education, autonomous cars and so on.
To play in this market, there needs to be secure, reliable and scalable technology. And yes, NOK is one of a few companies that that has these capabilities with its systems.
Another important factor: The US-China trade standoff. This means that the US will block out a fierce competitor — mainly, China’s Huawei.
And finally, Nokia has a valuable patent portfolio. On the earnings call, CEO Rajeev Suri remarked that there will be continued strength from the portfolio that should provide “considerable monetization opportunities.”
Bottom Line on NOK Stock
The move to 5G has certainly not been without its challenges — and this should be no surprise. The technology is complicated and requires dealing with onerous rules and requirements. But as for NOK, management is still optimistic and believes that the second half of the year will see a pick-up in the business. There is also about 200 million in euros of revenues that are expected to be recognized during this period of time.
Something else: NOK stock is quite cheap at current levels, with the forward price-to-earnings multiple at 12 or so. Oh, and the dividend yield is an attractive 4.13%. This is among one of the highest in the tech sector.
In other words, NOK stock does look like an interesting value play on the 5G opportunity.
Tom Taulli is the author of High-Profit IPO Strategies, All About Commodities and All About Short Selling. Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.