By Tarmo Virki
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia investors are bracing for the Finnish mobile phone maker to report weak sales of the Lumia phones that are crucial to its turnaround effort and a rapidly diminishing cash pile, in its second-quarter results later on Thursday.
Once the world's dominant mobile phone maker, Nokia was late to embrace smartphones and has lost out to Apple and Samsung Electronics in the most profitable part of the market.
It's fighting back with new phones that use Microsoft's Windows software, but while the Lumia models have won some good reviews they have had relatively little success among consumers who are choosing Apple's iPhones and phones running Google's Android software instead.
Analysts expect Nokia sold 4 million Windows phones in the second quarter - roughly doubling from the first quarter - but still only a fraction of Apple's expected sales of 30 million iPhones or Samsung's 50 million smartphones.
Nokia shares - which have dropped 84 percent since unveiling its Windows phones strategy - closed at 1.37 euros on Wednesday in Helsinki, after hitting an 18-year low of 1.33 euros earlier in the session.
The proportion of Nokia shares out on loan has risen to 13.2 percent in the last month, Markit data showed earlier this week, as speculative investors took bearish positions ahead of the report, expecting the shares to fall.
In the three months to June, all three major credit ratings agencies cut Nokia bonds to "junk" while the company warned twice on profits and said it planned to cut one in five jobs.
Some analysts, however, said much of the bad news may be more than priced in after the recent sell-off.
"Fears have been elevated to a level that may be greatly detached from reality," said Nordea analyst Sami Sarkamies. "The most interesting will be to see what the company says about the second half."
Nokia is expected to report a net loss roughly doubling to 706 million euros and burn through more than 1 billion euros of cash in just three months, according to a Reuters poll of 38 analysts.
Over the past five quarters, the one-time darling of mobile telecoms has eroded its cash pile by 2.1 billion euros - a rate that could wipe out its entire 4.9 billion euros reserves in a couple of years.
On average, analysts expect Nokia's net cash position to drop to 3.7 billion euros at the end of the second quarter and to 3.2 billion at the end of third quarter.
(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Erica Billingham)