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Nokia Beats Quarterly Profit, Sales Forecasts

Handset maker Nokia reported fourth-quarter earnings ahead of market expectations Thursday, helped by strong demand for mobile phones in emerging markets.

Nokia said it earned 32 euro cents a share in the last three months of December, up from 25 euro cents a share in the same quarter of 2005. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected the company to earn 28 euro cents a share.

Based on the current exchange rate between the euro and dollar, the company earned 42 cents a share, ahead of expectations for 34 cents a share.

Net sales rose 13% from the year-ago period to 11.7 billion euros ($15.22 billion). The Thomson Financial consensus was for sales of $14.55 billion.

Nokia said the average sales price of its phones fell to 89 euros in the three-month period covering Christmas, compared with analysts' average forecast of 92 euros and a forecast range from 87 to 95 euros, Reuters reported.

As competition to grab market share in emerging countries such as India and China heats up, Nokia and its competitors are seeing their profit margins come under increased pressure.

Shares of Nokia rose 4.5% after the results were released.

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