The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Nokia, Verizon Communications, Microsoft, Apple and Google

CHICAGO, May 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Nokia Corporation (NYSE: NOK), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG).

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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Verizon to Offer New Lumia

Smartphone manufacturer Nokia Corporation (NYSE: NOK) is set to launch a new Lumia 928 through the largest U.S. telecom carrier,Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). It is believed to be an attempt by the Finnish company to gain a meaningful foothold in the high-margin smartphone market within the U.S.

Lumia 928 is similar to Nokia's flagship Lumia 920 and possesses a 1.5GHz processor, brighter 4.5 inch display and an 8.7 megapixel PureView camera with Carl Zeiss lenses that allow sharp images even in low lights. The latest smartphone is 23 grams lighter than Lumia 920 and runs on Microsoft Corporation's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows phone8 operating platform.

Lumia 928 is exclusive to Verizon Wireless and has been priced at $99 after allowing a $50 mail-in rebate and a two year contract. The smartphone will be offered in both black and white and will be available in Verizon stores from May 16, 2013. However, arch rival AT&T is offering refurbished Lumia 920 at $0.99 with a two-year contract, while online retailer Amazon is offering the phone at $19.99.

Previously, there have been talks between Nokia and Verizon for a possible deal to offer the former's high-end smartphone range, Lumia. Though nothing concrete has materialized, the deal would enhance Verizon's smartphones offering and add a third operating system to the iPhone and other Android-based devices.

In the last couple of years, Nokia has fallen behind in the smartphone leadership race, which has been mainly dominated by Apple Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy range, which runs on Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android platform. However, in the last couple of quarters, Nokia has performed impressively based on a good show from its Lumia series. At the end of first quarter the company sold 5.6 million handsets recording sequential growth of 27.3%.

Nokia has strategically priced the phone to target the sub $100 smartphone market as carriers in the U.S. continue to slash handset prices to attract customers. We believe that Lumia 928's innovative features coupled with Verizon's leading LTE network within the U.S. will beneficial for Nokia to draw additional buyers for Lumia. Nevertheless, the Oslo-based company still has to go a long way to expand its smartphone market share from the present 5%.

Nokia currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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