Nokia has been hit with a class-action lawsuit for failing to turn around its smartphone business in six months and reporting substantial losses for the first quarter of this year.
Investor Robert Chmielinski says that between October 11th, 2011, and April 10th, 2012, Nokia engaged in fraud. Over that period Nokia CEO Stephen Elop made a number of confident statements about the prospects of the company’s then-forthcoming Lumia range of Windows Phone handsets. On April 11th, however, Nokia issued a warning that its quarterly performance would be worse than expected. The company posted losses of €1.34 billion ($2.17 billion) for the first quarter of 2012. Combine that with the $100 rebate for early Lumia 900 buyers—a move that knocked 16 percent off Nokia’s share price—and the company’s shares have taken a beating.
As is customary, Nokia’s forward-looking statements were all suitably disclaimed. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 has a “safe harbor” provision that protects companies from legal action should their forward-looking statements turn out to be untrue. Nokia included the necessary wording to indicate that the statements were dependent on market conditions and many other factors, and that reality might diverge from its predictions.
However, Chmielinski argues that Nokia isn’t protected, because Elop and other company officers knew that the forward-looking statements were false, and were not related to any business plan or projections. Chmielinski is claiming class-action status, with anyone who invested in Nokia in that six-month period included in the class.
Nokia has issued a statement saying that it is aware of the lawsuit, believes it to be without merit, and is investigating further.