Finland's industrial flagship Nokia said on October 23 it had edged ahead of US rival Motorola as the world's top mobile phone producer, and promised further robust growth after a strong third quarter. "We now feel confident in declaring that we have significantly increased our market share in mobile phones to become the largest manufacturer of mobile phones worldwide," Nokia chief executive Jorma Ollila said in a statement. He later told CNBC television that the strength of the booming Chinese market had been underestimated amid the global economic turmoil. Nokia said third-quarter earnings rose 85% from the same 1997 period to 4.1 billion markka (USD820 million), well above the 3.2 billion markka forecast in a Reuters poll. Nokia's January-September pre-tax earnings jumped 74% to 9.6 billion markka (USD1.9 billion), while sales rose 45% to 53.4 billion markka.Analysts cheered the result, saying Nokia outshone key rivals Motorola and Sweden's Ericsson , whose in-line third-quarter report satisfied the markets only because it did not contain nasty surprises. "These are exceptional results," said Douglas Smith of Salomon Smith Barney in London. "Nokia is clearly the dominant mobile phone manufacturer in the world." Nokia shares surged above levels seen before the global stock market plunge in August, but later succumbed to profit-taking, trading 3.6% up at 436 markka. Nokia's mobile phone division posted third-quarter turnover of 13 billion markka versus analysts' forecasts of 10.7 billion markka. Turnover was 6.7 billion markka in July-September 1997. Nokia did not specify the number of handsets it has sold so far this year. It sold 21 million units last year, when some estimates put its share of the market at about 20% against Motorola's...

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