RIM can't grab Nokia space with delayed launches: Citi

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 09, 2011 10:29 AM
RIM can't grab Nokia space with delayed launches: Citi

(Reuters) - Research In Motion is in danger of failing to capitalize on market share losses at rival Nokia by choosing to launch products later-than-expected, said Citigroup, which downgraded its rating on the stock to "hold" from "buy."

The brokerage, which slashed its target price on the company's shares to $45 from $80, also warned that Research In Motion's competitors are increasingly seizing opportunities missed by the company.

"Thus far, our supply chain checks show that RIMM's new models have not yet been certified by major wireless carriers and are not in mass production which concerns us," the brokerage wrote in a note to clients.

New touchscreen phones, featuring an upgrade to the company's existing operating system and improved hardware, are crucial weapons in the BlackBerry maker's scrappy fight against leaders Apple Inc and Google Inc in a fiercely competitive smartphone market.

"Current trends suggest RIM continues to lose share in the U.S. and media sources flagged that the new Bold 9900/9300 based on OS7 could be further delayed until September," brokerage Susquehanna Financial said.

The company, expected to report first-quarter results on June 16, stunned investors in late April with a steep downward revision of its current quarter forecasts even as it promised a turnaround from a line-up of new BlackBerry smartphones.

Susquehanna also cut its price target on the stock to $31 from $46, and said the company faced mounting risks to its market share and margins.

Nokia's share loss presents a window of opportunity for Research In Motion, but only if the company can execute new product launches on time to attract consumers, Citigroup said.

Mobile phone maker Nokia, which recently abandoned hope of meeting key targets, has been losing ground in the smartphone market to Apple's iPhone and Google's Android devices, and at the lower end, to more nimble Asian rivals.

Nokia's revised outlook showed its market position worsening much faster than expected, and should have been a positive for rivals such as Research In Motion, Apple and Google.

"However, we believe Research In Motion is letting this opportunity slip," the brokerage said.

Research In Motion shares, which have shed more than 40 percent over the last six months, were down more than a percent at C$35.40 in early trade on Thursday on Nasdaq. On Wednesday, they had fallen to $35.81 -- the lowest in a year.

(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Joyjeet Das)