At a time when Nokia (NOK) needs a solid quarter to prove to investors that it can stage a comeback, a new analysis suggests Lumia sales in the fourth quarter are shaping up to fall well short of the relatively lofty numbers being tossed around in recent reports. Pacific Crest’s James Faucette tossed some cold water on Lumia sales expectations on Wednesday, stating in a note to investors that the recent spike in Nokia’s stock was driven by some overly optimistic reports. The analyst believes demand for phones like the flagship Lumia 920 is healthy, but he thinks low shipment volumes pose a serious problem for Nokia.
“We believe that the recent rise in the stock may have been driven by what we would characterize as an overly optimistic interpretation of initial Lumia sales commentary,” Faucette told clients in a research note. “Back in mid-November, Bloomberg cited the rise in NOK1V shares as being driven by reports that the Lumia 920 had seen strong demand in Germany. While this may have been the case for a few thousand initial units, our checks indicate that retailers in Germany say they are only now beginning to receive the 920 across normal sales channels, and the volumes being received are still very small.”
He continued, “We believe there is some initial pent-up demand that is resulting in stores selling out of initial shipments in a few days. Nevertheless, we believe this is largely to do with the low shipment volumes rather than surprisingly strong demand. We believe a somewhat similar dynamic is likely going on at AT&T for the 920. Based on the inventory on hand, we believe AT&T is selling only 10,000 to 15,000 Lumia 920 devices per week at the moment. We believe stores are able to sell available stock in a few days; however, we found most stores getting only a handful at a time.”
Faucette estimates that Nokia will ship about 1 million new Windows Phone 8 handsets in the fourth quarter this year, but only about 500,000 units are likely to be sold to end users based on his observations.