Ahead of the Bell: RIM shares jump as Palm falls

AP News
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Posted: Dec 18, 2009 8:31 AM

Strong BlackBerry sales and subscriber growth boosted Research in Motion Ltd. stock in premarket trading Friday while rival Palm Inc.'s shares were battered after it said it experienced slow phone sales in its most recent quarter.

RIM shares jumped $7.28, or 11 percent, to $70.74, while Palm fell 92 cents, or 7.8 percent, to $10.80.

In a client note, Deutsche Bank analyst Brian Modoff boosted his investment rating on RIM to "Hold" from "Sell." He told investors he still has concerns over growing competition for RIM, but said the company "has proven it has carved out a profitable niche in the mid-term."

Even though the BlackBerry has captured a dominant market share among corporate customers, RIM faces a surge in smartphone competition from players including Apple Inc., with its iPhone, and Motorola Inc., which recently released the touchscreen Droid.

But Thursday's financial results proved "RIM remains a force to be reckoned with," Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu said in a research note. He rates RIM "Buy."

RIM's quarterly profit jumped 59 percent and sales were up 41 percent.

Palm, while narrowing its loss from a year ago, still reported results short of expectations.

The company, which makes the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi, posted a loss of $85.4 million after paying out preferred dividends, and revenue slid 59 percent. Its phone shipments were up from last year but dropped 5 percent compared with the quarter before.

Given the sales trend, BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Long said he doubts Palm can achieve its target of $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion in revenue for the fiscal year, which ends in May. He he has an "Underperform" rating on the company's shares.