Google’s rolling out Glass and Apple’s (hopefully) got some iWatch and other new form factors and tricks up their own sleeve and meanwhile Softee’s still trying to figure out how to sell more than 1 out of every 25 phones in the smartphone industry.
MSFT’s down today on the news that it’s buying up most of Nokia’s major handset assets and businesses. Typical Steve Ballmer kind of acquisition, as he looks backward and skates to where the puck was this time five years ago.
Back in 2007 and 2008, I couldn’t have been more bullish on the smartphone sector, as the iPhone and then Android hit the mass market. Microsoft rolled out their Zune music player and then their toy-like Kin mobile phone as Apple and Google created a new trillion dollar industry with easy-to-use, functional smartphones.
I bought MSFT calls last week on news that Ballmer was out of there, and I am surprised this morning to find he’s still out there making blundering strategic decisions with the company’s shareholders’ money.
On the other hand, I do like the fact that MSFT is at least buying NOK while it’s down 90% plus from its all-time highs. These assets and businesses that Softee’s buying from Nokia today would have cost 5-10x the price just five years ago. Also, the $7 billion plus in cash that Microsoft is paying for Nokia is equivalent to less than 1/10th the cash that Softee has on the balance sheet right now. And the company will generate $7 billion in cash in the next ten weeks to replace that which they just spent.
And if the new CEO, whenever he gets there to replace Ballmer, finally gets in power, there’s actually a lot of potential for leveraging the huge Nokia distribution system that enabled the company to sell hundreds of millions of phones around the globe every year for the last decade.
I bought a small position in MSFT calls last week. I’m going to add another small tranche to that position today, giving myself out into January of next year.
But I think we’ve got plenty of other meaningful long-term positions that have made us huge money and are likely to continue to make us bigger money than MSFT and my MSFT calls are a trade, not an investment.