Analysts slam RIM's latest phone delays

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 19, 2011 3:36 AM
Analysts slam RIM's latest phone delays

TORONTO (Reuters) - Several brokerage firms trimmed their price targets on Research in Motion shares and questioned the BlackBerry maker's ability to recover, after the company further delayed the release of its new line of smartphones.

The latest delay in RIM's new line of BlackBerry smartphones sent RIM shares down nearly 10 percent in premarket trading on Friday and it has some analysts sounding the death knell for the once iconic device.

"RIM confirmed the BlackBerry 10 smartphones will be delayed until the latter part of calendar 2012. This could be game over for the BlackBerry franchise," analysts at Canadian brokerage firm National Bank Financial wrote in a note to clients.

On Thursday, the company said it did not expect to release the new line of smartphones equipped with its new QNX operating system until late next year, long after its initial promise of a first-quarter delivery.

"We see a high risk that this is too late to turn around RIM's position and believe the risk of further delays is meaningful," Nomura analyst Stuart Jeffrey said in a research note. "Even in the best case, however, it seems unlikely RIM will have large volumes of its BB10 devices on sale within 15 months."

RIM's quarterly profit dropped sharply and it expects holiday sales to be so poor that it forecasts its first quarter-to-quarter decline in six years during the crucial holiday sales season.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company has been counting on the new QNX operating system to make up ground lost to Apple Inc's iPhone and iPad and the slew of devices that use Google Inc's Android software.

RIM's dour outlook comes just two weeks after the company warned that it would fall short of its already lowered fiscal 2012 expectations, due to weak sales and a large write down on inventories of its unloved PlayBook tablet that was once seen as a potential threat to Apple's iPad.


Canaccord Genuity cut its price target on RIM's US-listed shares to $15 from $18, citing the delay in the launch of BlackBerry 10 to the second half of next year and the company's plans to increase sales and marketing expenses to help sustain interim sales.

Barclays shared similar concerns about the company's projected investments into marketing and loyalty programs to regain "mind" share.

"Benefits of the investments are not guaranteed but are likely to keep RIM's operating margins at sustainably lower levels through 2012 and 2013," Barclays said.

The price target on RIM's US-listed shares were cut to $14 from $16 at Barclays, to $12 from $15 at Citigroup and to $8 from $10 at National Bank Financial.

Research in Motion shares, which have lost almost half their value in the last three months, fell to $14 in after-hours trading on Thursday, after closing at $15.13 on Nasdaq.

RIM's shares extended losses early on Friday morning, falling 9.6 percent to $13.68 in trading before the bell.

(Reporting By Euan Rocha in Toronto and Ashutosh Pandey in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Derek Caney)