If Jack Bauer Were CEO, Could He Save Nokia?

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I thought of several analogies in an attempt to describe the dreadfully dire situation with Nokia (NYSE: NOK), and how the whole nonsense is being handled. We could work the ever-popular sports angle: if Nokia were drafting in the NBA, they would select Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. If it were the NFL draft, Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning. Perhaps a cartoon reference: if Nokia were Wile E. Coyote, they would continue to shop at ACME instead of Costco and still not enjoy a road runner for dinner when there are several slower, perfectly attainable morsels available.

But it suddenly occurred to me that Nokia should hire Jack Bauer (24), as CEO. Actually, maybe a better suited role with the company that’s evaporating before Wall Street’s very eyes, Chief Financial Officer. Instead of the constant uncreative recurring theme from nearly every episode, CFO Bauer could instead utter, “We’re running out of cash.” Although the popular show was fabulous fraternity house fodder, making many a drinking game anytime fans heard the phrase, “We’re running out of time.”

Pick your favorite quote, they both apply in the case of Nokia, recently stating yet another profit warning and attempts to restructure. The restructuring makes perfect sense, since another 10,000 jobs go down the drain, leaving unfathomable responsibility to whoever is left standing. The company also mentioned plant closures and management changes in an effort to improve operations and marketing. Really? We’ve heard this all before, it’s more tiring than Lebron James’ championship ring quest or Obama’s birth certificate.

I truly hate to see a company melt in front of me, especially while I hold my painfully long shares (purely for tax purposes), but it’s almost to the point where it’s time to scream, “Enough already!” If it weren’t for the dubious partnership with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), giving Nokia the gift of the Windows phone, they would have possibly filed at least one of the eleven chapters in their sad novel of existence, well before they repeated similar sentiment from their last earnings call. Quite possibly even before they managed to still pay shareholders a dividend last month. That payout even amazed David Copperfield. Maybe they should design the second generation Zune.

At least with Mister Softee there is potential to go along with the world domination of Windows and the Office software suite, not to mention a sustainable 2.7% dividend yield. But to be honest I’m not sure what CEO Steve Ballmer was thinking, getting a dog with that many fleas. SPOILER ALERT: it’s like he bought Old Yeller after he was shot.

Microsoft can afford to make that type of mistake, Nokia can’t. I’m sure they welcomed the crew from the great Pacific Northwest with welcome arms and plenty of Starbucks, and given the incredible rush to the smartphone space, they certainly could have done a lot worse. But biting the hand that keeps the electricity running at HQ won’t be looked upon too kindly, I’m sure.

Even though I took a seemingly overwhelming amount of criticism from the Microsoft message board mafia for comparing Microsoft to a Disney character (“Apple is the Lion King, Microsoft is Scar”), I think they will do better with their next marriage (ta-da). Since that delightfully poetic piece aired, the stock is about $2 lower, but that doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s been said more times than I care to remember, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”, but when it comes to the smartphone space, these two are still in the starting blocks.


kmet312 owns shares of Nokia. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Microsoft and Nokia. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.

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