These are stories Report on Business is following Monday, Aug. 12, 2013.
BlackBerry up for sale
I doubt there were many BlackBerry Ltd. stockholders around who believed in a return to the glory days of shares in the $140 range.
But if there were, there shouldn't be now.
"While a change in structure could result in a higher stock price in the near term, we do not envision any changes that would help BlackBerry reverse the significant smartphone share loss or rapid decline in service revenues," analyst Tim Long of BMO Nesbitt Burns said today as the company officially put itself on the auction block.
As The Globe and Mail's Omar El Akkad reports, the company formerly known as Research In Motion struck a special committee to examine "strategic alternatives," ones that could include joint ventures or a sale of the smartphone maker.
Certainly, the Waterloo, Ont.-based company, once the giant of Canada's technology sector, had to do something.
Since giving the world the smartphone and rising to the top, seemingly untouchable, the company has been on a downward spiral, under pressure from the likes of Apple Inc.'s iPhone, Samsung's Galaxy, and Google Inc.'s wildly popular Android operating system.
The latest numbers, from International Data Corp., indicate BlackBerry is now an also-ran, despite its new BB 10 models that won generally positive reviews.
According to IDC, BlackBerry is in fourth spot in the hotly competitive market, with just shy of 3 per cent, having sold some 6.8 million devices in the second quarter of the year.
"BlackBerry saw its market share decline during the quarter, reaching levels not seen in the history of IDC's Mobile Phone Tracker," IDC said of the company's operating system.
"However, BlackBerry has shown steady progress since the launch of its BB 10 platform, which has grown to three models, additional mobile operators, and a greater presence within its total volumes," it added in its study.
"It is still early days for the platform, however, and BlackBerry will need time and resources to evangelize more end users."
Prem Watsa of Fairfax Financial, which holds a chunk of BlackBerry stock, has resigned from the company's board given a potential conflict, and, people familiar with the situation say, is looking at ways to take the smartphone maker private.
"We don't foresee any scenarios where the value of the company will be significantly larger, but part of our recent upgrade to market perform from underperform related to risks like this to the bear case," said BMO's Mr. Long.
Scotia Capital analyst Gus Papgeorgiou believes BlackBerry is worth $10.16 a share based on just its cash and patents alone, The Globe and Mail's Scott Barlow reports.
The shares gained 11 per cent today, rising to close at $11.13, a far cry from the area of $140 reached in intraday trading in May of 2008. It's now up from its 52-week low of $6.10, though well below the 52-week high of $18.49.
In a previous report, BMO cited the "potential" value in the company, which is sitting on $3-billion in cash and has gobbled up patents or licenses to the tune of $3-billion, as well.
It also still boasts 72 million subscribers.
"Our views on the stock remain unchanged," Mr. Long said.
"We are maintaining our market perform rating. Our valuation puts the stock value at $8 based on fundamentals, but we could see more excitement as we learn of strategic alternatives for the company."
Others have a higher value on the stock.
As Mr. El Akkad writes, the potential buyers of BlackBerry split into two camps, financial and strategic.
But at least one analyst casts some doubt on the strategic side of things, names such as Google, Apple, Microsoft Corp., Huawei and Amazon.com Inc.
"Google, Apple, Microsoft – I don't see them doing that," said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis. "They each have their own platforms. Amazon? I doubt it. Samsung? Maybe, but I doubt it."
That could mean players such as Fairfax or Silver Lake Partners in some form or another.
- Fairfax mulls taking BlackBerry private
- Apple to unveil next iPhone Sept. 12: report
- BlackBerry falls to 4th place in global smartphone race
Einstein, Hawking and Cerys
She's said to be brighter than Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. And one day, she thinks, she might like to be governor of the Bank of England.
But Mark Carney need not look over his shoulder just yet: Cerys Cooksammy-Parnell is 11 years old.
The British schoolgirl is making headlines around the world for scoring 162 on what's known as the Cattell B scale, which puts her IQ above those of Einstein and Hawking.
And her lawyer dad, Dean, whose IQ is 142.
The Northampton girl told The Daily Express that she just wanted to beat her father, though she didn't expect it to be by such a wide margin.
"Perhaps when I am really old and past 20 years of age I will have more intellectual conversations where my IQ will assist," she said.
"Until then, my focus will be on fashion, fun and getting good grades."
She's one of the youngest kids to take the test, which she wrote last month, and has been asked to join Mensa, the brainiac club, in Britain.
"I like working with numbers so I think I would like to work for a bank or even one day become the governor of the Bank of England," she said.
Her mother, Natalie, also a lawyer, said her daughter has always been smart, and was reading to her classmates at a very young age. Her interests, though, are like those of other girls her age.
"Cerys would rather sit down and read a copy of Closer than read a book and loves playing Candy Crush and Angry Birds," she told the Northampton Herald and Post, referring to the celebrity magazine.
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