Nokia axes dividend to shore up cash
US-NOKIA-RESULTS-DIVIDEND:Nokia axes dividend to shore up cash
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia plans to axe its annual dividend payment for the first time in over 20 years To shore up its cash position against falling sales.
Nokia, which has fallen behind in the smartphone race against rivals Samsung and Apple, has paid an annual dividend every year since 1989, and its payment last year was 20 euro cents. It said the suspension would ensure "strategic flexibility".
Nokia, which earlier this month flagged a return to underlying profitability on cost cuts and stronger sales of its Lumia smartphone, said on Thursday it finished the year with net cash of 4.4 billion euros ($5.8 billion), down 22 percent from a year earlier.
That was, however, up 22 percent from the previous quarter and above the market's estimate of 3.4 billion, thanks to cost cuts and a turnaround at Nokia Siemens Networks, its telecom equipment venture with Siemens.
Nokia shares were down 2.7 percent at 3.394 euros at 1135 GMT after an initial spike. They had risen 70 percent over the past three months, but were also the most shorted among the euro zone's blue chips.
(Reporting by Helsinki Newsroom; Editing by Will Waterman)