Nokia has published its third-quarter financial results, revealing that sales of its Lumia handsets reached an all-time high of 8.8 million devices shipped in the period, helping the company towards posting an operating profit of 118 million euros (£101 million), a significant improvement on last quarter.

The devices and services division, the majority of which will be Microsoft-owned early next year, saw rises in revenues for both smartphones - the Lumia range - and mobile devices - Asha and the like. But it is the Lumia handset sales results that are of most interest. North America has seen a 367 per cent rise year-on-year in the number of mobile devices sold in the country, which Nokia puts down mainly to a dramatic increase in demand for its Windows Phone smartphones. "In North America, the year-on-year sales increase was primarily due to our Smart Devices business unit," it said.

This will be also of most interest to Microsoft, as it would hope to grow the business in its homeland.

Read: Hands-on: Nokia Lumia 1520 review

The 8.8 million Windows Phone devices shipped worldwide in Q3 also represents a global rise on the 7.4 million sold in the previous three-month period. In financial terms, it made 1.254 billion euros (£1.073 billion) on the range in net sales. Asha phones and other mobile devices reaped 1.489 billion euros (£1.275 billion), which is up from the previous quarter, but down 37 per cent year-on-year - a further sign that the global phone market is moving away from basic devices.

Read: Nokia Lumia 2520 review

"The third quarter was among the most transformative in our company's history. We became the full owner of NSN ((Nokia Solutions and Networks)and we agreed on the sale of our handset operations to Microsoft, transactions which we believe will radically reshape the future of Nokia for the better," said Timo Ihamuotila, Nokia CFO and interim president.

"Subject to the completion of the Microsoft transaction, Nokia will have significantly improved earnings profile, strong financial position and a solid foundation from which to invest.

"We are pleased that NSN and Here both generated solid profitability in what was a seasonally weak third quarter and at a time when we continue to make significant R&D investments into future growth opportunities."