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BlackBerry maker RIM wins vote of confidence ahead of BlackBerry 10

Reuters
Nov 21, 2012 at 11:01am IST

Toronto: Research In Motion Ltd, for months enveloped by a wave of negative sentiment, got a boost on Tuesday when one of its most influential critics raised his rating on the stock ahead of the launch of RIM's make-or-break new line of BlackBerry 10 devices.

The upgrade by Jefferies & Co analyst Peter Misek pushed RIM's share price into double digits for the first time in five months, with the stock up more than 3 percent at $10.04 in early trading on the Nasdaq.

ALSO SEE BlackBerry 10 AppWorld to focus app quality, not quantity, says RIM CEO Thorsten Heins

Misek based his more optimistic view of the BB10 launch, set for January 30, on a favourable reaction by telecom carriers to the devices and the new operating system that powers them.

BlackBerry maker wins vote of confidence ahead of BlackBerry 10

RIM says its new devices will be faster and smoother and have a large catalogue of applications.

"Preliminary results from our quarterly handset survey indicate developed market carriers have a much more positive view of BB10 than we expected," Misek said in a note to clients.

ALSO SEE BlackBerry 10 finally gets a launch date - January 30, 2013

Shares of Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, a one-time leader in the smartphone industry, have plummeted in recent years as its aging line-up of devices lost ground to faster and snazzier devices from rivals. The company has bet its future on the new BB10.

RIM hopes BB10 smartphones will help claw back market share it has lost in recent years to Apple Inc's iPhone and devices that run on Google Inc's Android operating system.

Misek, who doubled his price target on shares of RIM to $10 from $5, also raised his rating on the stock to "hold" from "underperform".

"With greater carrier shelf space and marketing support, we now believe BB10 has a 20 per cent to 30 per cent probability of success," said Misek, who has long been skeptical of RIM's odds of engineering a turnaround.

Misek cautioned that there is still downside if RIM's gamble on BB10 fails, but he noted that the stock could be worth as much as $43 within the next 12 months if RIM's bet pays off and its new operating system gets licensed by other handset makers.

RIM says its new devices will be faster and smoother and have a large catalogue of applications, which are now critical to the success of any new line of smartphones. While feedback from both developers and carriers on the new devices has been largely upbeat, financial analysts have been much more circumspect about the company's prospects.

Misek's view is not shared by at least one of his counterparts.

In a note to clients on Monday, Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette reiterated his "underperform" rating on RIM's shares. He said regardless of its quality, there is almost no chance that BB10 will meaningfully change RIM's trajectory.

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