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Nokia: Q4 mobile phone sales beat own forecast

HELSINKI — Nokia Corp. signaled Thursday that its smartphone partnership with Microsoft was starting to reap rewards as it revealed fourth-quarter mobile phone sales exceeded expectations and said its handset business would return­ to profitability.

Nokia said it sold 86 million devices in the last three months of 2012, including some 4.5 million Lumia smartphones, while revenue amounted to about $5.17 ­billion. A year earlier, it posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $1.33 billion, with a 19 percent plunge in revenue.

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The cellphone maker said it sold 15.9 million smartphones in the quarter, up from 6.3 million in the previous quarter.

Nokia has been struggling in the fierce top-end race against Apple Inc. and Samsung and is now losing ground to Asian makers in lower-end devices. Samsung overtook it as the world’s number one cellphone maker early last year, after Nokia had led the field for 14 years. In 2011, Nokia said it would join forces with Microsoft to produce a smartphone that would run on Windows software. The latest­ Windows handset, the Lumia, was launched last year.

Chief executive Stephen Elop said he was pleased with the company’s solid fourth-quarter performance.

But the company warned that seasonality and competition would have hurt the handset division’s first-quarter profitability, in comparison to the last three months of 2012.

Nokia is due to report fourth-quarter earnings on Jan. 24.

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