Research In Motion Ltd.'s stock is see-sawing unpredictably, lurching in bursts of 10 per cent with every "buy" and "sell" rating from the bank analyst note du jour.
The company's fundamentals haven't changed substantially, but some think there's money to be made ahead of the commercial availability early next year of RIM's upcoming BlackBerry 10 phones. Some are even predicting a mass upgrade to the new devices by the existing 80 million BlackBerry users. Regardless, in the past couple of weeks, broad sentiment around the smartphone giant has turned decidedly sunny – with the odd holdout. Here's a look at some of the market-moving research.
Jefferies & Co., Nov. 20, 2012
Peter Misek, who follows mobile technology companies at Jefferies & Co., gave RIM shares a slight jolt when he doubled his price target to $10 from $5 and upgraded the stock to a "hold." In August, Mr. Misek said RIM's new operating system was not as good as the latest Apple and Android software and that "it appeared RIM is realizing what Wall Street has been saying for some time: they are a subscale manufacturer and desperately need a partner." That partner, in his view, was Samsung, which would either license RIM's new software – something RIM's management has largely rejected – or buy the company. But in his most recent note, he says wireless companies want to support the new BlackBerrys, and that even though he pegs RIM's "probability of success" at about 20 to 30 per cent, he says the worst-case scenarios such as an outright collapse of the company are much less likely than analysts previously thought.
National Bank Financial, Nov. 22, 2012
While much of Wall Street was home stuffing themselves with turkey on American Thanksgiving, National Bank Financial analyst Kris Thompson dropped a bomb over Bay Street. He upgraded his price target to $15 and increased his estimates of how many of the new BlackBerrys would ship as a result of an earlier-than-expected launch date in February, sending RIM shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange up 17 per cent in a single day. The next day, when U.S. markets opened, the stock soared on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Back in January, when Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie stepped down as RIM's co-CEOs and Thorsten Heins, then chief operating officer, took the reins, Mr. Thompson said, "We really don't see how any management team can turn RIM around at this point," unless Mr. Heins truly had some "impressive magic tricks." Looks like Mr. Heins brought the magic.
CIBC, Nov. 26, 2012
CIBC's Todd Coupland moved his price target to $17 from $8 and raised his rating, saying "RIM looks materially undervalued." This, of course, comes with RIM shares down about 95 per cent from their 2008 peak. Last year around this time, RIM shares fell below book value for the first time in nine years. Now, Mr. Coupland says marketing efforts, and carrier and developer feedback, along with upgrades from existing users and a lack of competing devices launching any time soon, should push RIM stock higher, despite some pricing pressure.
Morgan Stanley, Nov. 27
So much for the Canadian bulls. With RIM stock up about 50 per cent over the past month, Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum helped to send RIM's stock down by more than 10 per cent when he wrote in a research report that "ultimately we believe [BlackBerry 10] is too late." Although the devices are innovative, Mr. Gelblum said, he expects subscribers to continue switching over to Apple and Android devices, while the high-margin service revenue RIM rakes in from carriers go into free-fall around the globe. He notes that RIM is "un-investable in the near-term" because "hype around BB10" is making the stock volatile. Worse, the Morgan Stanley report landed on the same day as a separate bit of research from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech that said RIM's U.S. market share was down to just 1.6 per cent, from more than 50 per cent only a few years ago.
Goldman Sachs, Nov. 29
And RIM's up again. On Thursday, RIM jumped 4.4 per cent as influential Wall Street investment firm Goldman Sachs upgraded RIM to a "buy." Analyst Simona Jankowski writes that the falling price of the average BlackBerry could jump with the new lineup of higher-priced phones, raising margins. "We expect RIM's results will exceed Street estimates over the next four quarters," she writes, raising her 12-month price target to $16 (U.S.) from $9 based on positive early reviews and carrier support. But as for the chance that BlackBerry 10 will succeed over the long term? She says there's still only a 30-per-cent chance.