Nokia to Purchase Alcatel-Lucent Rumor Spurs Stock Price Rise

By Peter Bernstein May 06, 2014

There is an old saying amongst stock traders that you, “Buy on the rumor and sell on the news!” This has been validated yet again as Reuters posted a rumor that Nokia was going to use the gains from the sale of its personal device unit to Microsoft to acquire Alcatel-Lucent (ALU).

We have heard this before but that did not stop traders from pushing the stock up as high as 4 percent in early brisk trading and it remains up over 3 percent as the over 2 percent as U.S. markets approach the closing bell.

The rumor has it that Nokia would offer 4.10 per share for ALU who has a current market cap of about 8.3 billion euros ($11.52 billion).  And, as is customary when such things make the rounds, both companies have declined requests for comment.

At the risk of being an “I told you so,” one of my predictions back in January was that 2014 was going to be a very robust year for industry restructuring the likes of which we have not seen for quite some time. The reasons are simple. No matter where one looks across the information and technology sectors, there is a global realization that:

  1. Every sector appears to be at a “tipping point”
  2. The long-term fate of almost industry sector is likely to be determined in restructuring activities that will happen in the next 12 -18 months.

The long list of blockbuster deals both in the U.S. and Europe that have already been announced this year is already confirmation of that prediction, and it is only May. In fact, we still have the rumors of Sprint buying T-Mobile here in the U.S., while regulators digest the Comcast/Time Warner deal, just to name two prominent ones.

Given the shortening of the preferred vendor lists by communications network operators, and a tightening of purse strings on many fronts as well, consolidation on the vendor side of things is not a surprise. The current atmosphere is certainly conducive to the notion of, “If you can’t beat them, buy them.”

No doubt there is going to be a lot of speculation as to why to companies that have been ailing for several years when combined can put a dent in the market share of competitors like Huawei, Ericsson, etc. In fact, the old Chinese proverb that joint ventures and mergers tend to be instances of “same bed different dreams,” has a nasty habit of making what looks good on paper not so great once executed. 

In addition, as Alcatel-Lucent itself is an example, a change in foreign ownership in particular is challenging, and there is a lot of baggage that has to be dealt with including how sovereign entities and trade unions feel about such things. There are also dicey valuation considerations, and there might even be some consternation on the part of U.S. regulators over all of this before the dust settles given that Bell Labs, still in many ways a national treasure and an interesting part of the whole network security puzzle, is part of what could transpire.

All of that said, it is not out of the question that the rumor is accurate.  However, remember that I am not a financial analyst and do not play one on the Internet. Hence, nothing here should be construed as investment advice. However, if you believe that there is truth in buying on rumors as a path to good fortune and are a risk taker, enjoy the ride. Just remember it could be a very short one. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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