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Nokia ends earnings losing streak

HELSINKI — Struggling Nokia Corp. turned a fourth-quarter profit of $270 million compared with a loss of $1 billion a year earlier, but revenue fell 20 percent as it failed to make gains in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.

The Finnish company said revenue dropped to $10.6 billion as smartphone sales plunged 55 percent, and it gave a grim outlook, saying it would not pay a dividend for 2012 to save money.

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Although Nokia swung into profit after a spell of six consecutive quarterly losses, markets were not convinced. Shares closed at $4.26 on the New York Stock Exchange, down 38 cents, or about 8 percent.

Nokia said it sold 15.9 million smartphones in the period, down from 19.6 million a year earlier. In comparison, rival Apple sold almost 48 million iPhones.

The former number one cellphone maker said it expects operating margins in the first quarter to be ‘‘approximately negative 2 percent, plus or minus 4 percentage points,’’ citing increased competition and lower-than-­expected demand for its Lumia handsets and cheaper Asha models.

The news of the dividend and sales figures came almost two weeks after Nokia had pre-released some results and announced that its handset business had returned an underlying profit.

Neil Mawston, a technology expert from Strategy Analytics in Boston, said Nokia’s global smartphone market share had fallen to a record low of about 3 percent.

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