June 08, 2011, 12:16 PM — When your stock is in freefall, someone's always about to buy you. It goes with the freefall territory. And so it is recently for stumbling Finnish cell phone maker Nokia (NYSE: NOK).
A few days ago it was Microsoft that was going to buy its putative smartphone partner. Now it's Korean electronics conglomerate Samsung.
Samsung Electronics Co. Wednesday declined to comment on market speculation that it could be preparing a bid for ailing Finland-based handset maker Nokia Corp.
"It seems like a market rumor and we don't comment on rumors," a spokesman for the South Korea-based company said.
Nokia spokeswoman Mona Kokkonen also said the company doesn't comment on rumors.
Shares of Nokia fell as low as 31 cents, or 4.7 percent, to 6.23 early Wednesday. The company's stock is trading at a 13-year low and has fallen 42 percent since the company announced its smartphone partnership with Microsoft.
(Also see: Microsoft's not going to buy Nokia)
Since then it's been nothing but bad news for Nokia, with the company issuing quarterly warnings and analysts issuing downgrades. On Tuesday, Fitch Ratings bumped down Nokia's credit rating by two notches, which Dow Jones describes as "one step away from junk territory." (Investor relations, please hold.)
With no products from the Microsoft partnership coming until at least the end of the year (and, realistically, don't even count on that), Nokia is dead in the water.
The only question is whether the stock is down because of the rumor, or because neither company will confirm nor deny the speculation. Since no numbers are being kicked around, it's hard to tell.
Other than as a bargain, I'm not sure what Samsung gains by scooping up a company as troubled as Nokia, so I think we can safely rule this one out and await next week's Nokia takeover candidate. Maybe it'll be RIM.